Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Four Times (2010)

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)
The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

Best New Film
Genre: Drama
Director: Michelangelo Frammartino
Starring: Giuseppe Fuda, Nazareno Timpano, Bruno Timpano, Artemio Vellone
Language: None
Duration: 88 min.
Rating: 8.3  

A poetic look at the cycles of nature and life through a frail old man's struggle to continue his goat herding existence, the birth and life of a baby goat, and the fate of one tall tree.

The Four Times is a film written and directed by Michelangelo Frammartino.  It premiered in the Director's Fortnight section of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival where it was awarded the Europa Cinemas Label.

It's a beautiful film whose strange contemplative rhythm creeps up on you through a series of images that tell a story about nothing and everything all at once.  I sat down to watch this immediately after watching the overtime of an exciting hockey game, so I was unprepared at first for the slow pace and motionless camera placement.  Then when the main character was revealed to be a sick and elderly goat herder, I was very close to reaching for the remote and stopping it to watch something else because I wasn't in the mood to watch someone dying for 90 minutes.  But I didn't, and I'm glad because this turned into one of the best films I've seen all year, and as it happens, the old man's story is only a small part. 

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

Almost a documentary in the way the camera is kept mostly at a distance from the proceedings, and without any spoken dialog, Frammartino presents us four stories cyclically connected by nature; the old man, a baby goat, a tree, and a pile of coal.  It sounds strange and it is, but somehow the still shots, set in and around a remote picturesque Italian village; and the natural sounds of blowing wind, bleating goats, barking dogs, crackling fire, and hollers of men, all combine to form a hypnotic narrative with the capacity to make you laugh, and also think about the mysteries of life.

There's one amazing sequence of comic choreography in the middle of the film that stands as one of the cinematic highlights of the year.  With the camera perched high on a swivel we see a group of men dressed as Roman centurions for an Easter parade, a herd of goats in a pen, a pickup truck parked on a hill, and one very resourceful dog.  The resulting chaos, calamity, and most of all the dog's performance, is just sheer brilliance.

With The Four Times, Frammartino has delivered a surprisingly unique and entrancing film that explores the wondrous connection between human, animal, vegetable, and mineral.  One that importantly offers no religious, philosophical, or moral opinion, allowing the viewer to absorb and evaluate the sound and images on their own terms.  I highly recommend it.

Bonjour Tristesse

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)

The Four Times • Le quattro volte (2010)


Bonjour Tristesse said...

Haha I'm glad you trust my word so highly.  :)

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Cool.  I would love to hear back from you if you do end up watching it.

d_4 said...

Looking forward to it already. I mean, the summary doesn't say much.. the trailer just shows general quality, but there's not much to expect until YOU come along and let me know that I'm gonna love it. And I believe it!

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

I think I'll need to stock up on patience for this one.

CastorTroy said...

Sounds like a movie that creeps on you. Certainly, the contemplative pace makes me a bit apprehensive but given that you gave it a chance and it turned out to be one of your favorite picture of the year, I'm going to give it a rental :)

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Haha, I hope a small fraction of that is from my influence. :)

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Pure Cinema, that is a great way to describe it.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah I think you would really enjoy the scenes with the goats.

Michael Parent said...

It sounds like pure Cinema! Thanx for the recommendation I will catch this one.

Moviemonstrosityblog said...

The men who stare at goats

The Angry Lurker said...

I'll keep an eye out for this!

FrontRoomCinema said...

wow. this sounds stunning. Which in itself (the fact that this sounds stunning to me) is quite remarkable. Oh how I have changed in a year

The Reel Foto said...

i have a soft spot for livestock; i might watch this. :D

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