All the Cities of the North Screen 88 of 6 reviews

All the Cities of the North

2016

All the Cities of the North Poster
  • Perfectly in step with the pulse of a particular environment, All the Cities of the North is ancestor to both Thoreau’s Walden and Tarkovsky’s Stalker. It has little use for words... We see and feel this place as the men do—from a vantage point of intimacy and solitude that transcends historical cycles and political interference. Many scenes feel resurrected from an ongoing dream with no end in sight, like the soulful underwater night vision ballet performed by a trio of skinny dippers

  • There are several ways to measure the greatness of Dane Komljen’s first feature work, All the Cities of the North, and one of them is simply asking people who’ve just seen it if they can compare it to anything else. I’ve played this little game with viewers, many asked randomly, after festival screenings... As cinema viewers and as humans, we’re wired to compare one thing against another, and when a work of art defies this natural process, the responses can be interesting.

  • Aerial images in tow, a narrator explains that these constellations built for commerce never came to fruition, and that the locals then came to make them their own, building off of these ghost shells for their own use. This seems an easy metaphorical comparison to the story at hand, but this is just one of many unpredictable yet informative pauses... In this film, anything is possible, and somehow, it all softly collides into one solid consummation that drifts deeply under the skin.

  • Komljen is more interested in how local populations re-appropriate the modernist structures, building up around them and creating new spaces, new narratives. This in turn becomes a metaphor for the creative process, the filmmaker creating his own autonomous space, inhabiting the physical location for the duration of the shoot... Komljen’s work perhaps comes closest to the bricolage envisioned by Bressane, fluidly toying with ideas and concepts while remaining deeply personal.

  • As Sokurov does in Spiritual Voices (1995) and Confession (1998), Komljen exhibits a predilection for long takes, somber monologic voiceover, indifference to narrative drive, a vaguely defined sociopolitical situation, and long silences, all laced with a lyrical but subtle homoeroticism. The multinational pedigree of Komljen’s work lends itself to the fantasy that brotherly love can overcome social, ethnic, religious, and political barriers.

  • The film’s slowness seems rote at this late point in the history of slow cinema. All the Cities of the North solidified for me, after Guiraudie’s and Rodrigues’s movies, that these films are part of a genre, and some genre directors are better than others. The self-conscious, desultory feel of this one underscored the power of the other two.

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