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Monday, 15 October 2012

Boris Khlebnikov's Пока ночь не разлучит (Till Night do us part)

On another blog today radical food film scenes I was trying to choose what I found were the most radical food themed scenes and films and then I left home to watch this new film by Boris Khlebnikov which was set in a restaurant and based on material collected by journalists of Moscow's Большой город at one of Moscow's central deluxe restaurants. A lot was to be expected from Khlebnikov who is one of Russia's new wave directors and there was some fine work after his joint film with Alexey Popogrebsky Коктебель (Roads to Koktebel, 2003)- his film Свободное Плавание (Free Floating, 2006) showed extraordinary promise and even his Сумасшедшая помощь (Help Gone Mad, 2009) had one scholar comparing his work to that of Balabanov, Muratova and German Jr. Marcia Landy . However, with this film after recalling all the films by Ferreri, Bunuel, Chytilova, Pasolini, Olmi et al which managed to turn food into philosophy radicalism, Khlebnikov's contribution this time seemed very slight indeed. And yet, the ideas were (or could have been) there- the class divisions, the hierarchy and the snobbery, the kitchen as social microcosm, - but somehow too much seemed to get in the way. The invitation of Leningrad musician Sergei Shnurova in the film lead to one diversion, and the obsession with the mobile conversations lead to another, the kitchen personnel problem was solved by yet more phone calls from the chef. The final denouement also seemed based on a rather strange pretext of a rather absurd (and artificial) conflict between the waiters- and the restaurant fight seemed much less apocalyptic and rather too wearily filmed (Shnurova gesture too seemed predictable long before it finally came). This, of course, was comedy but not the comedy of Riazanov or Danelia - but rather a much more dispersed and fragmentary comedy- a comedy that relied on many dispersed conversations and situations that didn't quite hold within them the philosophy or vision of a whole. If this really is the better offering of the 'new quiet ones' ( a denomination used by Khlebnikov himself to denote the Russian New Wave), this phenomenon seems to be at risk of ending with a whimper rather than a bang.

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