Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Film Decade List #3: Songs From the Second Floor

Songs From the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, Sweden, 2000 (festival) or 2002(U.S. theatrical) )

Bleakly comic, absurdist, and visually captivating, Songs From the Second Floor is like no other film I've seen this decade. Andersson's film has the dark sensibilities of Bergman filtered through the absurdist storytelling of Bunuel. Not operating as a whole story but more as a series of vignettes, the film shows a modern capitalist society as dour people operating in a ugly city with a constant traffic backlog and almost everybody failing at doing anything. The film uses its dark humor to mask a bit of the serious critique that is behind what Andersson is doing. Like Bunuel, often the best way to criticize society is to make it completely absurd. Still, no message of the film can hold up to its amazingly rigid structure. Andersson films with a maximum amount of minimalism, holding the camera in place and never filming anything closer than a medium shot. It creates a bit of a distance between the viewer and film, never allowing to really feel drawn in. That could be a hindrance but since the world and characters of the film are a bit alien to begin with, the detachment of the camera in addition to the emotionless, sterile world of the film actually strengthen it. Andersson has created such a unique visual experience that I've never seen before or since here. It exists as almost something completely different than every other film on this list. Yet, it intrigues me as much as any film this decade.

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