La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

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domino harvey
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La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:23 pm

La Flor
Dir. Mariano Llinás, Argentina, 2018, 807m
I kept looking at all the other running times well over two hours and wondering why art house movies hate editors, and then this reminded me it could always be worse

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swo17
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#2 Post by swo17 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:34 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:23 pm
La Flor
Dir. Mariano Llinás, Argentina, 2018, 807m
I kept looking at all the other running times well over two hours and wondering why art house movies hate editors, and then this reminded me it could always be worse
Your #1 pick from last year was 546m

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domino harvey
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#3 Post by domino harvey » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:35 pm

Haha true

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zedz
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#4 Post by zedz » Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:16 pm

domino harvey wrote:
La Flor
Dir. Mariano Llinás, Argentina, 2018, 807m
I kept looking at all the other running times well over two hours and wondering why art house movies hate editors, and then this reminded me it could always be worse
I don’t know why you’re assuming this will be slow or unedited. Llinas’ last feature was really long too, but it was narratively dense with multiple strands and highly edited. It was long because it was four or more films in one.

This is presumably the trilogy of films he’s been working on for years (each of which seem to contain multiple episodes). Sounds like it’s more like a collection of six or more feature films (with pulpy hooks) than one long stretched-out narrative.

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Omensetter
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#5 Post by Omensetter » Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:42 pm

Here's the synopsis from the Film Society of Lincoln Center:

"A decade in the making, Mariano Llinás’s follow-up to his 2008 cult classic Extraordinary Stories is an unrepeatable labor of love and madness that redefines the concept of binge viewing. The director himself appears at the start to preview the six disparate episodes that await, each starring the same four remarkable actresses: Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa, Pilar Gamboa, and Laura Paredes. Overflowing with nested subplots and whiplash digressions, La Flor shape-shifts from a B-movie to a musical to a spy thriller to a category-defying metafiction—all of them without endings—to a remake of a very well-known French classic and, finally, to an enigmatic period piece that lacks a beginning (granted, all notions of beginnings and endings become fuzzy after 14 hours). An adventure in scale and duration, La Flor is a marvelously entertaining exploration of the possibilities of fiction that lands somewhere close to its outer limits."

If you're curious (as I now am), Extraordinary Stories is on MUBI, with its synopsis comparing it to Borges and Pynchon.

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knives
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#6 Post by knives » Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:49 pm

It really is one of the best movies of the last few decades though it takes a while to capture its genius. I had a good talk with Zedz about it awhile ago and I will try to find it later.

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senseabove
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#7 Post by senseabove » Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:13 pm

Omensetter wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:42 pm
Here's the synopsis from the Film Society of Lincoln Center:

"A decade in the making, Mariano Llinás’s follow-up to his 2008 cult classic Extraordinary Stories is an unrepeatable labor of love and madness that redefines the concept of binge viewing. The director himself appears at the start to preview the six disparate episodes that await, each starring the same four remarkable actresses: Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa, Pilar Gamboa, and Laura Paredes. Overflowing with nested subplots and whiplash digressions, La Flor shape-shifts from a B-movie to a musical to a spy thriller to a category-defying metafiction—all of them without endings—to a remake of a very well-known French classic and, finally, to an enigmatic period piece that lacks a beginning (granted, all notions of beginnings and endings become fuzzy after 14 hours). An adventure in scale and duration, La Flor is a marvelously entertaining exploration of the possibilities of fiction that lands somewhere close to its outer limits."

If you're curious (as I now am), Extraordinary Stories is on MUBI, with its synopsis comparing it to Borges and Pynchon.
That's definitely intriguing. I don't see ES on MUBi right now, though?

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senseabove
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Re: Festival Circuit 2018

#8 Post by senseabove » Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:28 pm

Oh, huh, MUBI does standalone rentals now, apparently: https://mubi.com/films/extraordinary-stories

the__projectionist
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Re: South American Cinema on DVD & Blu-ray

#9 Post by the__projectionist » Wed May 22, 2019 12:09 pm

Mariano Llinás' nearly 14-hour film La Flor is getting Blu-ray in France on July 14.
Last edited by the__projectionist on Wed May 22, 2019 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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swo17
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Re: South American Cinema on DVD & Blu-ray

#10 Post by swo17 » Wed May 22, 2019 12:11 pm

Looks like it will only be subtitled in French

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jsteffe
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Re: South American Cinema on DVD & Blu-ray

#11 Post by jsteffe » Wed May 22, 2019 1:35 pm

the__projectionist wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 12:09 pm
Mariano Llinás' nearly 14-hour film La Flor is getting Blu-ray in France on July 14.
Grasshopper Film has picked up the film for U.S. distribution: http://grasshopperfilm.com/film/la-flor/
.

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zedz
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Re: South American Cinema on DVD & Blu-ray

#12 Post by zedz » Wed May 22, 2019 5:00 pm

jsteffe wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:35 pm
the__projectionist wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 12:09 pm
Mariano Llinás' nearly 14-hour film La Flor is getting Blu-ray in France on July 14.
Grasshopper Film has picked up the film for U.S. distribution: http://grasshopperfilm.com/film/la-flor/
.
Now would be a great time for them to release Extraordinary Stories on BluRay or DVD.

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swo17
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#13 Post by swo17 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:49 pm

This movie. As speculated above, it's really more like seven movies strung together, completely unrelated save for the quartet of actresses who starred in each of them (well, just about) over the course of the ten years it took to make them. So yeah, you get kind of a more subtle Boyhood without the pretense of being this Big Statement About Life. I guess I'd say you get to watch these actresses grow over the course of the film, insofar as one can "grow" from handling mummy artifacts in a Hammer horror to holding guns in cool poses in a spy thriller, etc. The style is similar to Extraordinary Stories, with reams of narration replacing dialogue and nervy music propelling the story in uneasy directions that intentionally do not resolve themselves. It's sometimes sort of ineptly made in ways I found charming (consider a late orgy scene seemingly conceived by a sixth grader that doesn't know that all of the clothes come off) and I'll concede that several of the episodes probably wouldn't be particularly memorable in isolation, but they do have a strange cumulative effect. (It maybe helps that the early genre outings are followed by some absurdist Kiarostami posturing, a straight-up remake of a French classic which I won't spoil, and then a finale that feels like either Sokurov at his most painterly or one of Jarman's experimental works.) Regarding that remake, it definitely can't compare to the original, and for a while you feel a little embarrassed that he's even trying, but I'm pleased to report that its ending montage finally reaches those lofty heights. And then, perhaps fitting for a nearly 14-hour movie, the end credits leisurely unfold over a half hour of footage that I would gladly watch again sooner than any half-hour of broadcast television. What does it all mean? What does a flower mean? I don't know, but it sure is nice to look at.

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zedz
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#14 Post by zedz » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:55 pm

Glad you managed to catch this. I loved it, and could have stood even more. The way Llinas plays with narrative (and brazenly flouts spoiler culture) are delightful. Sometimes these reflexive jokes play out instantaneously; sometimes there's ten hours between set up and pay off of a particular gag. The first half of Episode Four is like a Godard film, if Godard were smarter and funnier, and the second half is a Ruizian academic detective story founded on a cluster of misapprehensions. Throughout it all, Llinas proves himself to be a master storyteller, getting us involved in narratives that might be second- or third- hand, or ramshackle in various eccentric ways (apparently some of the "international" dialogue in the Third Episode is literally lipsynced to Google Translate audio!), and which he and we know way ahead of time will not be satisfactorily concluded.

Did you catch the structural gag of the French remake?
SpoilerShow
Half a day earlier, Llinas had announced that the fifth episode was the only one with a beginning, a middle and an ending, and yet it's not only a remake of a famously unfinished film, but he omits the ending of the original! Although he does include the original soundtrack of that ending, untranslated, over the aero show footage earlier in the episode.
That end credits sequence was more like forty minutes by my watch (which I'm guessing makes it the longest on record?), and I also thought it was just lovely. Even here, Llinas is stringing us along, from time to time slowing the pace of the credits down to a crawl without ever slipping out of the credits sequence (I think the longest gap between screens is only about ten seconds).

As for meaning, to me it was primarily a playful meditation on the power of narrative, and its relevance to modern cinema / modern life. In filmic terms, it can overcome all the formal obstacles Llinas puts in its way. And within the film's narratives we also see how the characters employ and construct narratives to negotiate and navigate their worlds. In Episode Two we see three different versions of Victoria and Ricky's back story, from three different perspectives, for three different purposes (first, the romantic myth constructed for popular consumption, then her self-justifying version, then his). Likewise, we see three versions of the duet they are supposed to sing. First his, which makes little sense without her lead vocal; then hers, which makes a lot more sense; and finally the actual live duet, in which all the elements finally come together and which is far more powerful than we could have anticipated.

Much of Episode Three (particularly the back half) is directed by the story of the Tse Tse Fly, which we and Casterman hear from a one-off character of no particular authority named Spider (a reference to phantom film in Episode Four that joins the two halves of that episode into a Moebius strip), but which Casterman believes so steadfastly that he's prepared to murder people because of it.

In Chapter Four of Episode Three - a chapter that Llinas himself seems to be unaware of, since he announces right beforehand that there will be an interval in its place - Dreyfuss, hampered by geographic disorientation and monolingualism, constructs his own, comically off-base, parallel narrative of what's going on (just as Gatto will do in the following episode). (And speaking of parallel narratives, did you notice that the La Flor that the Llinas figure in Episode Four is shooting doesn't start off with episodes about a mummy, pop singers and spies, but ones about vampires, ballerinas and bank robbers, or con men?)

Episode Four ultimately turns into a quest for the right narrative: a pre-existing story that will allow the four actresses to be simultaneously central and sidelined.
SpoilerShow
Although Gatto has no idea that this is what was actually going on, the director finally finds that narrative in the disputed 'Spiders' section of Casanova's memoirs.

And, by no coincidence whatsoever, the two remaining episodes are both adaptations of pre-existing stories, one of which is the only episode to not feature the actresses at all (an absence that only draws attention to their structuring role, particularly as we have been expressly told that they feature in all six episodes), and the other the only one to feature nobody but the four actresses, even though their presence is 'sidelined' by removing their voices and rendering their forms indistinct.

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swo17
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#15 Post by swo17 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:54 am

Yes, the classic French film is a perfect choice given Llinás's structural concerns here.

There's a lot to chew on obviously, and probably several details I missed (so your incisive comments are much appreciated). It's one of those ultra-long "endurance tests" that's hard enough to make time for in the first place, and then it sneaks up on you midway through and practically demands that you take it all in again in short order to properly connect everything. Which is one of those problems you can have that is not really a problem.

Also, I just checked and the end credits run basically 37 and a half minutes, so I win by Price Is Right rules.

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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#16 Post by Newsnayr » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:32 am

I'll just say off the top that this is one of my twenty or so favorite films I've ever seen (which is Not a statement I take lightly), so I love your notations of all of the little gags (Spider, the three versions in Episode 2). It only reinforces my conviction that as enjoyable as individual sections may be, it doesn't really make sense as anything except a full total film. One of the most indicative quotes from Llinás's Cinema Scope interview, about the ending of Episode 4:
I’ll tell you what I feel now, but let me say first that if that’s your favourite sequence, then it worked. It should be like that. If not, then it’s ridiculous. But if you feel that everything has brought us here, to this moment, and you’re satisfied, then the trick worked. I’m sorry to reveal that it’s a trick, but it was!

If I had my way, if the film was just for me, the whole picture would be like that sequence. But no one would care for 14 hours of nice pictures of those girls. You have to arrive at that point, so you care about them. You know why it works? I’m going to say something terrible, but you know how they do the In Memoriam videos at the Academy Awards? It’s that kind of thing. Of course those moments are horrible because everybody cries, and they have to be judicious and intersperse people everyone loves with people nobody knows, but the same idea applies: you need the whole picture for it to work emotionally.
Also, just a little note: as far as I know, the last section's purported source appears to be a fabrication, though I'm not totally sure if that's the case or not. Regardless, I want to talk about this film for the rest of my life.

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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#17 Post by kubelkind » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:34 am

Thanks Zedz for keeping your eyeballs peeled and catching those gags, most of which I missed. I loved this too, but had to space my viewing of it out over a week, which was probably a mistake.

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zedz
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#18 Post by zedz » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:53 pm

One of my favourite gags in the film is when Llinas himself comes back late from the final interval, bustling in with his coffee and water. In the meantime, we (and the camera) have just been roaming around the picnic area waiting for him. As a part of the audience, you've dealt with this issue yourself or in your fellow travellers five times already, and now it's reflected in the film. There are quite a few such details like this that will only play properly when you see it in a cinema. The way the intervals and episode breaks are handled is part of the fun that's likely to be lost on home video, where people can pause at will, skip breaks, and create their own pacing.

I also loved it when, at one point, the narrator is corrected by another offscreen voice. It pays to process the film's narration critically, as there are a lot of times when it doesn't match the events it's purportedly describing (e.g. Elisa Carricajo's character in "The Mole" pouring herself a cup of tea from a samovar as the narrator tells us that her assistant brings her her tea every morning), as if the film (or its actresses) are getting away from the author. And this, of course, is a running gag with Llinas's recurrent appearances, when what he explains is going to happen doesn't, for whatever reason.

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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#19 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:34 pm

I thought this was terrific for many of the reasons already mentioned. The playing with film rules brewed slowly throughout the first three segments, from a B-movie idea that subverted genre conventions with oddly imposed character introductions and offbeat pacing, to a divisive structure containing a perspective-heavy romantic drama with one of the strangest cult thriller plots (and all the more outrageous in attempting to connect it with the other story), to a spy film that makes up nearly half of the film’s runtime in its web of alternate narrative strands that break down to each make up their own movie, in ways that somehow both flesh out and divert away from the ‘main’ story.

Each seemed to unravel this idea of narrative connectivity to new heights until we hit the fourth, and best episode of the bunch, impossible to justly summarize with linguistic analysis. It’s funny, meditative, entertaining, introspective, and simultaneously dissects and deconstructs the art form, peeling back layers upon layers of metaphysical comprehension (comparisons already made to Godard, Kiarostami, and Ruiz are apt, and this chapter functions as such a dense hybrid of ideas and styles that influences from all three are often felt at once, an experience worth the price of admission alone) until we arrive on the other side at a direct and lucid solution in the form of a visual presentation of the director’s earlier declaration:
SpoilerShow
“if you film someone next to a tree, something happens that it doesn’t if you film the tree alone.” The trees look much better with the girls in the frame. The clarity of this realization is emphasized by the wordless, focused montage in its simplicity, that follows the eruption after a long road of analytical complexity that came before.
The girls are the interest in this film, the constants that we look to for guidance in this narrative whirlwind, and whatever we think we are interested in exploring (nature, objects, feelings evoked from music, editing, plot mechanisms, etc.) it all works better when there’s a person there to relate to and bring it all back home. We are humans and these women are our surrogates, vessels for generating empathy and investment as usual, but in this case they serve a higher function as the thread that holds every loose piece together and provides the strength and ability for Llinás to venture as far as he does, permissing the exploration of creative flexibility to endless limitations with safety and security. I don’t think anyone has used, or worked in accordance with, actors to such a groundbreaking effect as is on display here. They are tools for shaping the entire process of the film, both structurally and as instruments that maximize the impact of common character associations due to playing with time, roles, and narrative; flexing their roles as independent and dependent variables, catalysts and participants, subtle objects for the spectator’s gaze and lively subjects. Forces of nature.

This film challenged me to change the way I watch and process the elements of film, by tweeking, bending, or lighting fire to blueprints I didn’t know could be touched, altered, or in some cases, existed in the first place, and whatever deeper meaning is hidden within, that’s pretty profound.

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domino harvey
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#20 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:44 pm

zedz wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:55 pm
The first half of Episode Four is like a Godard film, if Godard were smarter and funnier
It's too bad I won't be able to see this movie since my eyes have rolled all the way back in my head and fixed there after reading this. If you were French I'd wonder if Raymond Borde was alive and well!

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therewillbeblus
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#21 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:14 pm

domino, if it makes any difference as a fellow Godard enthusiast, I agree with the first half of that statement though I can see where the “smarter and funnier” could come from if one doesn’t feel the same. The whole episode is very humorous and intelligent, playing with similar ideas and technique as Godard but more accessible, which doesn’t mean less complex, as it’s rooted in the development of an established context (that happens to be about uprooting established contexts). Its impact is also much stronger after the 9 hours that precede it, which certainly helps evoke much of the humor and contributes to the overall effectiveness of the episode, and by extension, the film.

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zedz
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#22 Post by zedz » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:14 pm

"Smarter" may be subjective, but as therewillbeblus notes, a large part of that comes from just how rooted in a complex of narrative experiments this (half-)episode's peculiar narrative experiment is. But I reckon this section of the film is definitely funnier than anything Godard has ever done.

Llinas is clearly a Godard admirer, and what's possibly my favourite shot from the whole film (the incessantly interrupted, incessantly returning one with the film crew on the side of the road, trying to shoot a tree in the background while one of their number waits at the car, compulsively eating bananas in the foreground) isn't just a beautiful Godard tribute in terms of its composition and content, it's a genuinely Godardian gag.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#23 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:49 am

Q&A with Mariano Llinás from the Lincoln Center

This is a pretty engaging discussion as one might expect, especially regarding Llinás’ take on today’s ‘moral’ trappings of narrative, his conceptualization of ‘endings,’ and his peculiar yet satisfying definition of technique and godlike categorization of the camera.

I could watch him talk about film all day, and as I get ready for another viewing of La flor tomorrow (when I will watch his film all day), I’m prepared to declare it one of my very favorite films. I don’t know if the movie has left my mind for a whole day in the four weeks since my first viewing, and I’m not sure if I ever want it to.

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Re: La flor (Mariano Llinás, 2018)

#24 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:59 pm

Question regarding the first story for those who’ve seen the film:
SpoilerShow
Marcela (Elisa Carricajo), the first character we see, breaks from a sexual encounter in the first scene and says to herself, “Please, not again..” She continues to present as very distressed throughout the story except for a brief moment near the end when she finds the mummy’s eyes that are the catalyst for the supernatural elements of the plot, and then seems to be calm, smiling, and about to explain something to the man who she had the initial romantic encounter with before they’re interrupted.

I understand that some of this information is being kept from us on purpose, but does anyone have an idea for why she becomes so afraid in that first scene, and subsequently the rest of the film prior to any mummy entering the picture?

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