A 2021 Film Journey: Day 154

Third day of Pride and I feel like a bit of a broken record, but I once again am using the Criterion Channel’s LGBT section. What can I say, I have a type of film that interests me and Criterion just delivers on that time after time. For a slight variation on the Criterion theme today, I chose to visit a selection type that Criterion offers that I have not watched much from before: Shot+Feature

Flores (2017, Dir. Jorge Jácome)

Jorge Jácome, Flores - Video & Film - e-flux

Flores is superficially a story about the impact on the island of Azores during a climate apocalypse. As hydrangeas grow uncontrollably and stifle the other fauna on the island, it could be a setting for a heavy-handed environmental film. However, director Jorge Jácome instead uses this beautiful floral landscape as a backdrop for a love poem between two men who enlisted in the army to stay on the island together. The short leans heavy in the poetic style to deliver a quiet, meditative piece that lingers in its beauty.

Beau Travail (1999, Dir. Claire Denis)

Beau Travail' Review: Claire Denis' Finest Hour

I understand why these two films were paired together. In fact, it almost seems too obvious that they would be together, and the similarities are rather obvious. That said I would never have heard of the former short so no complaints here.

This film is another one that I am struggling to write about. At its heart, Beau Travail is a tone poem, and one of the more effective ones that I have ever seen. Claire Denis uses voiceover with the repetitive movements of the French Foreign Legion troop training in the Djibouti sun. This hypnotic mood amplifies the obsession of Galoup (Denis Lavant) until it smolders over from the intensity. Every second of the film is imperative to the essence of the film even if the narrative could be distilled to a short film. Watching the film is more of an experience than watching a story, and I loved it exactly for that.

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