Otar Iosseliani – Chant d’hiver (2015)
A deadpan, picaresque buddy comedy about two old friends through a series of urban adventures, loosely connected by the skull of an executed French aristocrat. Winter Song is a typically irreverent Iosselianian jaunt through a classy Paris apartment block contemplating the past, present and future.
by Busan International Film Festival
Iosseliani was born in Tblisi, Georgia, in 1934, and he was trained in music at the Tblisi conservatory until 1953, after which he lit off for the University of Moscow to study math—both early vocations would crucially inform his future practice. He next proceeded to the VGIK film school which, during the smothering years in which Socialist Realism was the official aesthetic of the Soviet-influenced world, had become a hotbed of dissident thought. After achieving an international reputation with such films as Falling Leaves (67) and There Once Was a Singing Blackbird (71), Iosseliani emigrated to France in search of greater creative freedom, re-establishing himself after one of the periodic hiatuses which would characterize his career with 1984’s Favorites of the Moon (Les Favoris de la lune). Tending towards the use of a withdrawn, observational perspective and the patient development of minutely-calibrated non-gag gags, Iosseliani works in a mode which we might indulge in calling Tati-esque, if only to give the vaguest idea of how his films play. This shorthand, however, fails to account for Iosseliani’s occasional incursions into the realm of fairy tale logic—as in a moment in Chant d’hiver when a passage which appears magically in a grotty suburban wall opens onto an Arcadian grove—or his peculiar political perspective, a sort of bemused outrage.
Chant d’hiver (“Winter Song”) opens with two juxtaposed prologues—one set during the Post-Revolutionary Terror in Paris, another during what is presumably the 2008 Russo-Georgian War—then settles in to focus on the comings and goings of the various residents of a Parisian apartment building and their tertiary acquaintances, most prominently the concierge, Rufus, who carries on a sideline of trading bazookas for antiquarian books. The ensemble includes Enrico Ghezzi, playing a down-at-the-heels gentryman whose family keep is about to become property of the state, Mathieu Amalric as a tramp constructing his own shelter from stray rubble which he will decorate with his family’s promissory notes as a finishing touch, and the actor-director Pierre Etaix, a Jeff to Rufus’s Augustus Mutt. Add to this a band of roller-skating pickpockets, a police chief with the profile of Della Francesca’s Duke of Urbino, and a hobo being pancaked, Looney Tunes–style, by a steamroller that may as well be ACME brand, and you have a small sense of Iosseliani’s quiet-yet-bustling film, which has something like the perspective of the world observed from a park bench. – by Nick Pinkerton
2.53GB | 1h 56m | 1280×720 | mkv