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)
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.
The first movie I saw at my local annual docfest... this one is really tearing me in two. part of me loathed this movie. It felt like we were being punked. I kept waiting for something to happen. half of the people in the theatre were laughing and half walked out. I started getting into it then they showed be a goats ass for 10 minutes and I saw NO artistic metric in that. \
There were certainly some bright moments of quiet humanity that I loved.. but in the end this experiment failed for me
This conceptually avant-garde film feels like it'd be an arduous sit, but in the beginnings it evokes a certain trance quality. As the film progresses though, that trance starts to fade into tedium and I starting to grasp at any and all ideas the film might want to communicate. Maybe the transience of life, quotidian existence, or even the ever tiered relationship between humans and their gods. It's probable to make a case for all not because the film is all encompassing but it requires the audience to find the meaning when there might not be any to find. The individual sections are fine enough but as a whole two hour experience it feels lacking in purpose and when the humans are replaced by a gaggle of goats it's hard not to take it as a joke. It should be noted that the film as conceived will divide reactions, as many experiments do, but put me down for noble failure.
"Manakamana’s form honours a tradition of structural cinema, its eleven static shots establishing a dialogue with one another about the geography, heritage, and dialect of the region (Gorkha, a poor farming district in Western Nepal), subtly investigating whether this new technology has diminished the level of sacrifice of time, body, and mind that the pilgrimage demanded when it was only possible on a three-day hike (one recalls Herzog’s claim to the virtue of walking; “the world reveals itself to those who travel on foot”)."
How is it that a film recording eleven nine-minute cable car rides to and from the Manakamana Temple in Nepal—without any exposition or voice-of-god narration whatsoever—is immeasurably more riveting than the $160 million Ambien tablet known as Godzilla, in which life was liberally imperiled and entire cities were destroyed in order to elicit some kind of visceral response in the viewer?
Damned if I know.
I guess we'll just have to call it magic and leave it at that.
But let me re-emphasize what a cinematic feat this is: During some of the cable car rides nobody speaks—or else the passengers speak very little.
One of the trips is taken by goats! And the goats vocalize more than a few…
Films Directed or Co-Directed by Women