Monday, September 30, 2013

Traveling up and down a mountain 12 times with Manakamana (2013) New York Film Festival

Your view for the next two hours

This is going to be brief since you're either going to love this or hate it. For me this should be in a museum or gallery where you can walk in and out not be locked in to 118 minutes of variations of the same thing.

The film are six trips up a mountain to a temple in Nepal and six trips back. The camera is locked so we simply watch the people riding in the car going up. The only variations are the people, whether its up or down, or which side of the cable car (front or back) the camera is.

Thats it.

Well there are the goats in carrier car- the sixth trip up is the goats- four or five goats  are tied so their butts face us as the cable car goes up. The effect is that for nine minutes we have a goat's asses staring up in the face. Did I really need to see the world that way? (In all honesty some people I talked to liked the goats and didn't fixate on their butts but the way they seemed to be looking at the scenery and reacting to the sounds.)

It was at that point I gathered up my stuff and when the next segement was almost done I got up and left. I didn't need to see more.(actually a lot of people left from the second segment on)

I understand why this is at the festival, the film can be hypnotic, and you fall into looking at the country and listening to the sounds, but at the same time it goes nowhere  just round and back again- which is why this should be an installation not a feature film.

If this is your kind of thing- go for it -if not- skip it.

(Addendum- in speaking with several people the day after the press screening I was told that most of the more interesting material is in the second half. Its during the second half where the people coming back from the temple react to the experience and talk about their lives and what they've seen. Everyone I talked to said that the one thing they kind of wished they had done was alternated the up the mountain trips with the down so that you didn't have to wait to see how people reacted to their time on the mountain.  The very positive reaction to the second half was so strong I tried to see if I could wrangle seeing the film again in a public screening but couldn't-I am looking forward to seeing it on DVD)

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