Currently Browsing: Roza Melkumyan
Set on the Uruguayan coast, Lucía Puenzo’s XXY (2007) tells the story of a 15-year-old intersex person, “Alex” (Inés Efron), who has been living as female and suppressing the development of masculine features with medication. At the start of the film, she has stopped taking this medication and begins to explore her sexual identity while trying to cope with the difficulties that come with living outside of the classifications that society assigns us.
For me, Márta Mészáros’ Adoption (1975) crashed over me in a wave. In this Hungarian black and white film, 43-year-old factory worker “Kata” (Katalin Berek) desperately wants a baby. When her married lover “Jóska” (László Szabó) rejects the idea of having one together, Kata looks into adoption. During this time, she grows close to the orphaned teen “Anna” (Gyöngyvér Vigh), who wants to leave the orphanage and marry her love “Sanyi” (Péter Fried).
With a sparse plot, Davaa’s allows the audience to hone in on the details of a nomadic family’s everyday life in the Mongolian steppes. Through their story, we also learn about Mongolian culture, folklore, religion, as well as the way in which the modern world encroaches upon these elements of nomadic life. Furthermore, through a film such as this, we can learn implicitly; Davaa does not merely tell us about the Mongolian lifestyle, but invites us into the family’s actions while weaving their culture into their speech and thinking.
Amidst newspaper stacks and overfilled bookshelves, “Mithat” (Mithat Esmer) sits alone in his easychair. He wears a face of wearied determination as if he’s just served an ultimatum, which he has. According to the authorities, he has only a few weeks to clear out of this apartment so that the building can be demolished and rebuilt. As the weight of this news settles in, I hear only the mismatched ticking of dozens of clocks. The sense of urgency they carry insists on being felt, and I oblige.
At first glance, El Camino and Hollow City might not seem like they have much in common. Yet, after having watched the two, I find that they complement each other remarkably well. Both offer the beginnings of a coming-of-age story in which the audience looks at the world through a child’s point of view. Together, they offer both parallels and juxtapositions of how such a child must grow — as seen through the lenses of death, setting and agency, and friendship.
Regarding plot, there isn’t much to summarize in Chantal Akerman’s Je Tu Il Elle (1974). In the Belgian director’s second feature-length film, the principal character “Julie” (played by Akerman herself) spends a month in voluntary isolation before hitchhiking with a truck driver (Niels Arestrup) and finally visiting her ex-girlfriend (Claire Wauthion). If the camera dedicates a full five minutes to a scene in which Julie and the driver drink their beers and smoke cigarettes in silence, why do I need to keep my eyes on the screen? What will I miss in the seconds that I turn away?