11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Palms  [DVD] (DVD)Often cited as being one of the most original films in the last 50 years, Palms is a very long semi-documentary about the homeless and disabled people of Kishinev, Russia.
The film has a wonderfully dark, grainy black and white aesthetic and it looks more like something from the 20's or 30's as opposed to the 90's.
The film follows the homeless subjects around incessantly - sometimes to the apparent annoyance of the people being filmed. There is no interviewing as in a normal documentary, in fact the film is less concerned with the plight of its people and more focused on the narrators own opinion on life (The narrator BTW is a fictional character who is `talking' to his aborted child and doling out advice on life).
Having read a few reviews before renting this film I was expecting something mesmerising. In fact, Amazon's own review would have you believe the story that unfolds is romantically epic. Perhaps my expectations became too high but now that I have seen it, I would say the Amazon review is far more enthralling than the film itself.
The concept is good, and it does sound like it would be a good film when you read the synopsis. However, despite enjoying the aesthetics, the film dragged and I really couldn't see what was so original about it.
Also, I felt the director exploited his subjects for his own gains and he pretty much confirmed this himself in the short interview with him that appears on this disc. I can't remember it word for word but I recall him saying something along the lines of not being concerned with the plight of the homeless, they were merely puppets for him.
So, maybe I'm missing something but for me it was too long and didn't treat the people involved with any compassion.
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Initial post: 11 Jan 2012 04:07:48 GMT
Something reminded me of this film tonight, and though it's very sad, I couldn't be more pleased to see it's available on DVD, and will buy it right now.
I was fortunate to be present at its first showing at the SF Int'l Film Festival (in the early 90s I think), and the interview with the filmmaker that followed. At its next showing I took my sons. The large theater was packed at both showings I attended, and the audience was absolutely silent, respectful, and obviously very affected. The soundtrack enhanced the emotional effects of the visuals; it was the Verdi Requiem, I believe. I remember the film as an extraordinary testament to human suffering, and never forgot it.
The young man who made the film was gentle and unassuming in manner, and was anything but self-important or exploitive. He seemed to be quite poor himself.
Somewhat apologetic for the unpolished look of the film, he said, "things aren't the way in Russia that they are here" (as indeed they weren't, and certainly not in Moldova), and described struggling for years while studying film to get hold of any kind of black and white film he could find so that he could return to Kishinev and keep shooting.
It was perfectly clear to me that he made the film because of his feelings about the plight of the people he photographed.
As for the review I'm responding to, perhaps a bit of self-examination wouldn't be a bad idea. Projections so often lead us astray.
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