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Viggo to present Loin des Hommes at Western Sahara International Film Festival - April 28 - May 3, 2015

Source: Facebook - FiSahara.
Found By: Eriko
Thanks to Eriko for the heads up.

Information HERE.

Images © FiSahara.

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Movie Review: You’ll Love Jauja, Even If You Don’t Understand Any of It

Source: Vulture.
Found By: Chrissie
Thanks again to Chrissie for this review from Vulture.
Image Guadalupe Gaona.
© 4L Productions.
by Bilge Ebiri

I've now seen Lisandro Alonso's captivating, unearthly Jauja four times, and I don't think I'm any closer to telling you what it's all about; the more I see it, the more puzzled I am. Alonso likes to traffic in the oblique — in the blank, mysterious spaces between the ostensible realities onscreen. That sounds like a lot of hooey, but watching Jauja, which is certainly one of the best films of the year, I never once doubted that I was in the hands of a master filmmaker. For all its seeming austerity, the film pulls you along with incredible force — not unlike the way it pulls its lonely protagonist, played by Viggo Mortensen, along on his quixotic, dreamlike journey.

Mortensen is onscreen by himself for much of Jauja — along with an ever-present, seemingly endless horizon, captured beautifully by Finnish cinematographer Timo Salminen's often hauntingly still camera. Our protagonist is a Danish engineer named Dinesen, working with the Argentine army in the late 19th century in a remote, wind- and sea-swept corner of Patagonia. When his 15-year-old daughter (Villbjork Mallin Agger) runs off with a young soldier, Dinesen goes off after them. His journey is one of gradual transformation, but the biggest change happens right at the beginning: Though he's tried to keep his distance from the rough, menacing soldiers around him (men who talk casually of exterminating natives they call "coconut-heads"), Dinesen trades his civilian clothes for an officer's uniform before he sets off into the desert, giving up his telescope and timepiece for a gun and a sabre. Violence is always hovering on the edges of the frame — the second shot in the film is of a pair of soldiers' hands, covered in blood, casually scraping away at a tiny piece of meat, an image at once delicate and brutal. Is this violence senseless, or is it an unfortunate, necessary civilizing force? The film doesn't dare to answer this question, though it certainly asks it.

That's just one of many questions it asks, however. As Dinesen's journey becomes ever more futile, and the landscape around him ever more barren and unreal, Jauja seems to adopt and shed meanings. We know this man will never "find" his daughter in the traditional sense — this isn't The Searchers, though at times John Ford's meditations on society and savagery seem to be an influence — and the ways in which different elements recur throughout make it clear that we're watching a symbolic journey more than anything else. Small objects and items gather totemic significance. A mysterious deserter — a brilliant soldier named Zuluaga who has either disappeared, or gone native — is often mentioned but never quite seen, though at times we suspect he may be lurking right outside the frame. And what about Jauja itself, which an opening title tells us is the name of "a fabled city of richness and happiness," about which "the only thing that is known for certain is that all who tried to find this earthly paradise got lost on the way"? Our hero certainly gets lost, but was he looking for richness and happiness, or just trying to save his daughter? Does it matter?

The little symbols and hints that Alonso drops along the way — guiding fables, parallel myths, objects of telling significance — are tantalizingly incomplete. They flirt with meaning, but they secretly dissemble and distract. Alonso has a lot on his mind, but he's interested in casting a spell more than sending a message, in texture, sound, and image more than narrative. As he proceeds through this dreamscape, Dinesen watches his reflection shimmer in pools of water; he looks up at a night sky of supernatural beauty; the ground around him becomes more volcanic. Meanwhile, a third act encounter in a cave sends the film further into the realm of the surreal — Rip Van Winkle by way of David Lynch — and the final scenes are a what-the-f*** of epic proportions, suggesting both rebirth and abject futility. Jauja is a rapturously bizarre movie that resists knowledge. That's its secret, intoxicating power; the less you understand, the more mesmerized you are.

© New York Media, LLC. Images © Guadalupe Gaona/4L Productions.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Well – it's been quite a month for Jauja which is still sweeping critics away with its unusual ratio, stunning colour and mysterious journey. There's been a lot of long and thoughtful reviews to read. Feel as lost amongst them as Dinesen is in the desert of Patagonia? Time to sort through it all for the gems that really get to the heart of Jauja.

I've now seen Lisandro Alonso's captivating, unearthly Jauja four times, and I don't think I'm any closer to telling you what it's all about; the more I see it, the more puzzled I am. Alonso likes to traffic in the oblique — in the blank, mysterious spaces between the ostensible realities onscreen. That sounds like a lot of hooey, but watching Jauja, which is certainly one of the best films of the year, I never once doubted that I was in the hands of a master filmmaker. For all its seeming austerity, the film pulls you along with incredible force — not unlike the way it pulls its lonely protagonist, played by Viggo Mortensen, along on his quixotic, dreamlike journey....

Jauja is a rapturously bizarre movie that resists knowledge. That's its secret, intoxicating power; the less you understand, the more mesmerized you are.

Bilge Ebiri
21 March 2015

Dinesen, with his European manners, books and scientific principles, is at once noble and ridiculous, a civilized man adrift in the wilderness and the embodiment of blind, imperial arrogance. A doting father and a bit of a snob, he seems to absorb the wildness of his surroundings, becoming desperate and almost feral as he wanders the wasteland howling his daughter's name.

O. Scott
New York Times
19 March 2015

It's absurd to think our hero could ever track down his daughter in an alien country, even before things start to turn deeply strange and dreamy. He's off the map even before he's robbed of his horse and most of his possessions; from the start he's destined to be lost in and swallowed up by nature, red in tooth and claw and utterly disinterested in the plight of insignificant humans... Like all of us, [Dinesen's] a rationalist who expects the world to work a certain way, and is helpless when it does not...

Matt Prigge
Metro (US)
20 March 2015

The film is framed in a 4:3 aspect ratio and, most strikingly, sports rounded corners on its images. That relatively constricted vision (somehow the rounded corners highlight how quickly the world slips out of view as the camera pans) is offset by the incredible depth that Alonso and masterful cinematographer Timo Salminen produce in their shots. In the open desert, fading gradually from sharp clarity in the foreground to the soft blur of the horizon, the images seem to connote infinity...

...The film is its own journey, and there's seemingly no end to how far you might travel with it.

Tomas Hachard
19 March 2015

Everything is right from the start — from the boxy aspect ratio to the way the lighting makes the on-location shots of nature look artificial. Everything looks fake and real at the same time, creating an imaginary space in which it's a pleasure getting lost.

Matt Prigge
Metro (US)
20 March 2015

When the camera moves it is often with straightforward, almost jerky pans. Disarmingly, it feels like we're going through somebody's old home movies on Super 8 reversal film, yet the intentionality of it could not be more clear. As the film continues, something about the formality of the shot compositions starts to feel unfamiliar. They don't have much in common with Antonioni or Ozu, but rather bring to mind the grimly formal shots set up by 19th-century photographers. Though the visual approach has much in common with Alonso's earlier films, here it feels honed, almost eerily appropriate, for the world it depicts.

Aaron Katz
The Talkhouse
16 March 2015

...the landscapes remind us that 'Scope is not indispensable for evoking vastness: the tight parameters of these frames encourage us to imagine an infinity outside their edges. Rich colors suggest both dream and the artifice of Hollywood Westerns: deep blue clouds on a sky fading to yellow at its base resemble a painted backdrop; pools of golden firelight in a night shot are manifestly lit, as if on a studio set. Visual leitmotifs suggest threads through the maze: pools and streams whose mirrored surfaces suggest doors into other worlds, a tin soldier that turns up in unexpected places...

...the real treasure, the mythical object for which the film sets out, is finally nothing more than the very film that it ends up being.

Jonathan Romney
Film Comment
19 March 2015

A shot of Dinesen staring at himself in mote-speckled water rhymes with a later shot of the captain stretched out on top of a mountain staring at the stars — one man contemplating both himself and his place in the cosmos...

Vadim Rizov
Filmmaker Magazine
20 March 2015

Mortensen has the kind of face — both chiseled and mobile, with eyes that hold as many secrets as they spill — that's made for close-ups. But Alonso and his cinematographer Timo Salminen, by refusing to zero in on that fantastic face, give us more by showing us less. Our attention is more deliberately focused on Mortensen's place in the landscape, and in the way his soul inhabits his body, clad in a stiff soldier's uniform. Now and again, we do get to look squarely at his face — Alonso wouldn't be so cruel as to deprive us of that entirely. But by holding the camera back, he intensifies both Mortensen's performance and the visual potency of the movie around him. There's so much to take in here that at times I almost felt as if I were absorbing it through my skin.

Stephanie Zacharek
Village Voice
17 March 2015

...characters' faces are brightly and artificially lit, creating a halo-like effect which, along with the artificial contrasts of the spot-lit nighttime scenes, makes the film seem to be unfolding in a backlot of the mind.

Mark Asch
The L Magazine
11 March 2015

Alonso's previous features have been notoriously—and, for many viewers, off-puttingly—slow and cryptic. Mortensen injects the director's esoteric, anti-psychological themes with a psychological reality that makes them all the more tantalizing.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
AV Club
19 March 2015

This lack of solicitude for the audience—the real time, the featureless stretches of land and sky, the incomplete knowledge of events—is a perfect storm of cinematic minimalism. Rather than consume the movie as if it's served to us pre-chewed, we lean in, hold our breath, suspend judgment. We're as lost as Mortensen's protagonist, and we feel the weight of it acutely. The semi-flat steppes all look the same in every direction, and the minutes tick by, until eventually night falls and we lose our bearings completely.

Michael Atkinson
In These Times
18 March 2015

"Jauja" is also thrillingly beautiful, and graced with Mortensen, who seizes the imagination even when he's sniffing horse manure.

Farran Smith Nehme
New York Post
18 March 2015

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © 4L Productions.

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Far From Men at Tribeca Film Festival - Update

Thanks to Chrissie for bringing us this updated information:

The Tribeca Film Festival have now announced when and where Far From Men will be screening:

8:30 PM - TUE 4/21 - SVA Theater 2 Beatrice

9:30 PM - FRI 4/24 - Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea

3:45 PM - SAT 4/25 - Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea

Follow the link HERE for ticket details.

Images © One World Productions.

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Interview: Viggo Mortensen was surprised more people weren't turned off by 'Jauja'

Many thanks to Chrissie for this interview from Metro (US).

The actor made an Argentine art film and has been pleased that a lot of people embraced it.

© 4L Productions.
by Matt Prigge

With "The Lord of the Rings" a decade ago, Viggo Mortensen went from a perennial character actor to someone who could do whatever he wanted. And so he has. Since then he's been pickier about what films he does, sometimes only doing a film every few years, and not often in Hollywood. A part-time painter and photographer who also has over a dozen experimental albums, Mortensen's travels have now taken him to "Jauja," a full-on art film from Argentine minimalist Lisandro Alonso ("Los Muertos," "Liverpool"). The actor plays a Danish soldier in the 19th century who, while searching for his runaway daughter, winds up lost in an unforgiving and increasingly dreamy landscape. (He's of Danish descent and was raised in Argentina.) And Mortensen is surprised most mainstream viewers don't find it an impossible sit.

Alonso tends to work with non-actors. Did he change his approach up very much, could you tell, while working with you and other professional actors?

He realized right away that with me and the other actors that, if needed, he could get us to repeat things or understand things on a different level. In the past he would just put them in a situation where he would say, "Here's what you need to do," and that would be it. At first he was a little nervous, but he's got great instincts. At the same time he's an open book. Unlike a lot of directors, he's not insecure in the sense that he's more than willing to say, "I'm not sure what that's about" or "I'm not sure if that works or not." On the first day he said to me, "What do you say to them?" I said, "Who do you mean?" He said, "Actors." I said, "Well, I'm an actor." [Laughs] He asked if there was a certain thing he should say to the girl playing my daughter. Just the fact that he would ask that, it was endearing and great. I said, "I don't know, why don't you just do a take and if you like it, tell her you liked it." I lot of directors forget that's important. And he asked, "What if I don't like it?" I said, "Tell her you liked what she did and ask if she wants to do another take." [Laughs] And he quickly got the hang of it.

What about his previous films drew you to him?

They're all quite different. I like some more than others. But I generally like his sense of rhythm and time. It's not like other filmmakers. Some do remind me a bit of [Andrei] Tarkovsky's work or [Aleksandr] Sokurov's work. There's something about the treatment of landscape and time in his storytelling I find attractive. I realize it's not really commercial. But it's something I like to watch.

You seem to have become more free to do films that aren't very commercial after "The Lord of the Rings."

I've always done that. I'm always looking for something that I wouldn't be embarrassed to see 10 or 20 years from now. There were certainly movies before "Lord of the Rings" I did because I needed to pay the rent or gain experience. But when I started getting more responsibilities after my roles became bigger, I started spending more time on preparation and the responsibilities on the shoot and, most importantly, the time and energy you put into promoting the movie, to help the movie be seen. Now I choose very carefully because it's a lot of time.

Did you get the sense that, unlike a lot of independent movies with name actors attached, it would have trouble getting funding without you?

Lisandro didn't need me to be in this movie to get it made. He was going to make this movie anyway. He makes his movies for nothing. What did help was an actor and a producer, there's now another layer, an extra dimension. He had been at Cannes before, but maybe now he had a little more attention, just because he's working with actors and with an actor who's relatively well-known. All those things help get it to the public or to the attention of critics, at least, where they'll at least look at it. But he was going to make the movie anyway, and he would have probably have made a really good movie with or without me.

There's a real sense in this film of someone being lost in and swallowed up by nature.

Landscape in his movies is always an additional character. You see several times where the landscape is there, a human being enters the landscape, they leave the landscape, and the landscape is still there. In a way it's a statement that we are impermanent. [Laughs] Life is fleeting and the landscape is bigger than us and can overpower us. It's also a metaphor for what happens to my character. He gets lost and meaning goes out the window.

Your character still holds onto this dogged pursuit for his daughter, even though, as the film gets stranger, that becomes increasingly impossible.

It's interesting to play a character who's always looking for a logical explanation within linear time, no matter how weird things get. We debated for a while how we should handle the strange scene in the cave, how weird the atmosphere should be. I said that, whatever happens, my character needs to stick to trying to make sense of everything all the time, from his northern European western point of view — that there's got to be a rational explanation to these strange questions he's getting. He doesn't want to give in to the weirdness. The more he's looking for a rational explanation, the weirder it gets.

There's a temptation for some viewers to try to solve films like this, as though they were puzzles.

Which is what he's trying to do. In some sense he is the audience.

At the same time Alonso doesn't try to answer anything.

The thing I like about Lisandro is the same thing I like about someone like David Cronenberg, which is they tell a story that provokes a lot of questions, but they never make any effort to answer those questions in any direct way. That doesn't interest them. That's the kind of artist I like: someone who shows you something or tells you something but leaves it up to you to work it out.

I've found that certain Cronenberg films require multiple viewings to even get a true grasp on what he's doing with them.

That's the great thing about his movies, and it's the same with "Jauja," which I've now seen many times, and each time I see it I see new layers, little details that add to the overall sensation. Even things from the very first scene, the words that are said there set up a lot of other aspects of the movie in a way. I've heard a couple people say it would have been perfect if it had ended [spoiler, but let's say a couple scenes earlier]. I don't know why that would have been perfect. First of all, I don't think anything's perfect. But for me [the ending] follows perfectly, and it's set up from the beginning. The way he makes these big jumps is elegant. One jump flows into another beautifully. That's really hard to do without being clumsy or looking like you're being pretentious.

Have you found that viewers are demanding cold, hard answers about the film's meaning when you've presented the film?

Some people find it really disturbing. Many Q&As we've done we've gotten tons of interesting questions. There's no movie that's ever going to be liked by everyone. But this movie has had overwhelmingly positive reactions and, interestingly, very different kinds of positive reactions, and very few bad ones. I thought there would be more. I thought there'd be more people saying, "What the hell is this? It makes no f—ing sense." When it started to be seen, when it won the prize at Cannes, I knew a lot of, for lack of a better term, mainstream-type critics would see this movie, people who had probably never seen a Lisandro Alonso movie, and they would say, "This is bulls—, I don't know why these movies win prizes." And quite a few of those critics seemed to get something out of it.

It's almost like this could be a gateway for some into art cinema.

Who knows? Maybe now some of those people will go see other movies, or see more Tarkovsky movies, and maybe they'll look at all the movies they see in a different way. It's good to wake up in the middle of the night and think, "Maybe everything I've been thinking is not quite right." [Laughs] I think that's healthy.

© Metro International. Images © 4L Productions.

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Last edited: 1 April 2015 14:11:01