Now complete: The Dissolve's 2014 Movies To See Checklist
A documentary about a group of pilgrims who travel to Nepal to worship at the legendary Manakamana temple.
Got a pretty cool time-distortion effect with this one, where I thought, like, an hour had passed but it had really been two. Only other piece of art to do this so acutely to me was the album Dopesmoker by Sleep - I'm not saying that record and this movie are going to sync up Dark Side of the Rainbow style, but just having the thought probably means I'm eligible for prison time in Texas.
While it's streaming on Netflix, I'd recommend watching the first three car rides. It's about 20 minutes. You'll know by then if it's for you or not. And if you watch to the end, well, I'm tempted to say: that's life.
Lots of Fish Head "Scene of the Year" nominees.
absolutely enthralling, packed with indelible moments, funny as shit. constantly pokes at ethnographic documentary construction, preconceived notions of it, and even the privileged distance that's a part of watching it. metalheads, goats, ice cream, rooster.
Walked out of this 18 months ago, and I'm afraid seeing the rest didn't much help, though at least there's some comedy and music in the home stretch to liven things up. For whatever reason, my interest in the Sensory Ethnography Lab films is inversely proportional to the amount of screen time devoted to human beings—I loved Sweetgrass until it started paying attention to that one lonely cowboy, and my least favorite part of Leviathan was the shot of the fisherman falling asleep watching Greatest Catch or whatever it was on TV. Not that 11 empty cable cars would be an improvement here, but I might've been more enthused about, say, 11 different cable-car rides, in different locations, à…
If last years Leviathan proved to be a difficult watch for some, then the directing duo of Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, also from the Sensory Ethnography Lab, will prove to be even more divisive. Taking in long stable takes, it forces a mould between character and spatial studies, inviting us to observe the miniature of movement both in the fore and background of the images slowly passing by on screen.
We spend the entire time in a cable car travelling to and from the Manakamana Temple in Nepal. At first it seems like a seamless round trip until you realise the edit takes place in the docking station as the car circles round in dark, ahead of its return…
SEL does it again, those sons of bitches.
(good review, david)
Any film that can capture my attention long enough to have me looking up a goat's ass for ten minutes earns my respect. Manakamana is clearly not everyone's cup of tea. But if you're willing to give yourself over to a quiet, fascinating snapshot of humanity (and goats), you may feel rewarded.
I can't remember any scene from a film that had me laughing so hard as the goat scene. At first, I stared in disbelief. Then the chuckles started. Finally, I couldn't help the belly laugh, not so much because of the visual, but because of the realization of my complete surrender to the filmmakers. The power of cinema, huh?
If you enjoyed Richard Burton grappling with Nazis on…
Manakamana creates an enclosed cosmos. Each of the film’s eleven shots consists of a camera seated on one side of a gondola lift facing the passenger (or passengers) seated on the other side. The gondola travels from one mountain to another, either toward the Manakamana temple in Nepal or returning from it. The passengers are different in each shot, ranging from two women racing to finish their ice cream before arriving at their destination to three Nepali rockers talking about a gig to a group of goats, presumably on their way to be sacrificed, who bleat in fear at every bump on the cable.
The camera never moves—at least, never more than the lift itself does. The passengers before us…
wilfully defies mankind's overstimulated, oversaturated times and demands instead a keen attention to the neglected minutiae of basic existence; or at least that's how i explain finding myself quietly mesmerised by staring at a goat's asshole for six minutes.
Manakamana is a Hindu temple in Nepal that people visit and make offerings or sacrifices. There's a cable car that takes people up to the temple. For the first half of this documentary, people take the cable car up to the temple. In the second half, people take the cable car down. That is quite literally all that happens. People are filmed in real time for the 10 minutes it takes to ride the car. Sometimes they talk to each other. Sometimes they don't. In one case, they are a bunch of goats (really). They don't seem to be aware that they are on camera. This film is riveting. Seriously. I loved it.
Ah, the Sensory Ethnography Lab. I see that they actually have six films to their credit, but only three seem to have gotten much attention: their debut, Sweetgrass; Leviathan, from a few years back; and this one. These are the three I've seen as well, and Manakamana is currently my favorite. I appreciate the humor in it, and the allowance for amusement. Yes, there's plenty of space dedicated to just sitting there watching the faces of people who aren't talking much, but there's also time given to a chatty vacationing rock band, two ladies comedically eating quickly melting ice cream, and a group of confused goats. I found it an enjoyable experience.
This viewing was also notable thanks to my…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Spray and Velez's Manakamana is an intimate portrait of interaction as much as it is a deceptively complex look at broader change in customs. Contained in eleven eleven-minute static takes/vignettes that form an illusory whole (like Birdman or, perhaps more accurately, Hitchcock's Rope), the only consistency is the role of the Austrian-engineered cable car transit system on a mountain ridge in Central Nepal escorting people with various offerings to-and-from the temple where Hindu goddess Bhagwati resides.
The co-directors decided to mount a 16mm camera on a wooden base inside one of the cable cars to film a series of passengers at close-up. What had always been an intensive three-day hike up the hillside for Hindus has suddenly become a leisurely,…
This could work as something to have on in the background or as something to give your full attention to and sort of meditate with. Not for everyone, but I really enjoy films which give the viewer an opportunity to inhabit a time and place without cutting every few seconds. You could probably count the number of cuts in this film on your hands.
I think the concept is well-executed and it never gets to the point of tedium, however, I can see how not everyone could get into this. It requires patience and it challenges the viewer to project their own thoughts and observations onto the film, making it a sort of interactive experience where you meet the filmmakers half way. I live for films like that, though.
THE existential film of ever. Deeply evocative but exhausting.
P.S. The goats was my favorite segment.
Instructions for viewing:
1. Find a fun activity you can do in your living room. Something that will occupy you for about 2 hours.
2. Put on Manakamana in the background and enjoy the ride, complete with occasional views of goat's butts.
Films Directed or Co-Directed by Women