Fire at Sea ★★★★

I sometimes make a distinction with friends between Slow Cinema for the Youth and Slow Cinema for Adults. The former uses the long take for two reasons. First, it aims to instill painful bodily discomfort in the viewer akin to riding some sort of endurance roller coaster; the (presumably male) viewer feels a sense of masculine accomplishment for enduring this strain. At the same time, it seems to me to be a calculated gesture to position oneself in a certain way to succeed on the film festival circuit. In this first group, I’d put people like – and please don’t hate me for this, Young Male Cinephiles -- Lisandro Alonso, Lav Diaz, Pedro Costa, and even Bela Tarr, though I love Tarr – partly because he’s much funnier and more baroque than these others. In the second group, I’d put people like Apichatpong, the late Kiarostami and Panahi, and now Gianfranco Rosi as well. These people seem to be into a more contemplative cinema, less painful and more thoughtful. I loved this movie because its meditative temporal quality enhanced its unusual narrative structure and mixture of content. Why, after all, would you juxtapose the deaths of African migrants at sea with the story of a young boy and his sling shot? This idiosyncratic, ruminative composition intensified both its intellectual and emotional qualities.