May 21, 2007

Cannes. Import/Export.

"Very much in the vein of his best-known film, Dog Days (2001), Austrian auteur and documentarian Ulrich Seidl continues in this, his first fiction film in 6 years, to explore the darker aspects of human existence," writes Peter Brunette for Screen Daily. "Seidl has been described as a sadist, but underneath all the gloom and doom and constant cruelty is obviously a disappointed idealist crying out for people to care for one another."


Premiere's Glenn Kenny calls Import/Export (in Competition) a "quite assured work in the 'I suffered for my art, now it's your turn' mode."

Updated through 5/27.

"[M]iserable but masterful," writes Russell Edwards in Variety. Seidl's "trademark unrelenting gaze into despair will come as no surprise to those familiar with his work. Seamless performances by mostly nonpros add vividness to Seidl's dark vision, though pic's unflinching and exploitative use of real-life geriatric patients borders on the cruel."

"With an aimless script inadequately filmed, the picture is unlikely to make it much farther than its inexplicable inclusion In Competition here at Cannes," grumbles Ray Bennett in the Hollywood Reporter, where Scott Roxborough talks with Seidl.

"Seidl hurls yet another blow to us Westerners, brutally depicting the contradictory consequences of social globalization with harsh, grotesque images that often simultaneously evoke smiles and strong emotions," writes Camillo de Marco for Cineuropa.

Update, 5/22: "While Import/Export is not polemical, it makes the implicit argument that consumer capitalism, among other forces, has pushed the less privileged citizens of Europe - especially in the East - into a state of abjection," writes AO Scott (probably, not sure), in the New York Times. "But in making this point so powerfully, Mr Seidl walks right up to, and perhaps crosses, the boundary between exposing the degradation of human dignity and participating in it."

Update, 5/23: Anthony Kaufman, writing for indieWIRE, finds this "perhaps his most tender movie.... On a purely visual level, Import/Export enthralls, thanks to the strong, symmetrical compositions of cinematographers Ed Lachman and Wolfgang Thaler and an array of provocative locations (namely a trashed 'gypsy' slum of Socialist-style high-rises)."

Update, 5/24: Import/Export "incorporates two of the most distinct characteristics of contemporary Austrian cinema," notes Dennis Lim at IFC News. "It emphasizes geographic, if not economic, mobility and it mixes fiction and nonfiction (using non-pros and real locations, including a porn studio and a geriatric ward, in a fictional scenario).... [T]he film isn't much of an advance for Seidl's bludgeoning, depressive sensibility, but the leavening measures of compassion and absurdist humor are more pronounced than in the past."

Update, 5/27: "Of all the films in Competition, this one had the most to say about the world we live in," writes Mike D'Angelo at ScreenGrab.

Cannes @ 60. Index.

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Posted by dwhudson at May 21, 2007 8:29 AM