Jauja Screen 50 articles

Jauja

2014

Jauja Poster
  • Intermittently playful, consistently confounding, finally petrified, it's a film of fussy, cultivated austerity; Alonsolytes will debate what it's hiding, while others will suggest "an actual movie" as the answer.

  • It's the first of Alonso's films that I haven't actively hated (highest previous rating: 29), but I still found most of it unproductively enervating. And don't talk to me about Tarkovsky, Viggo—that dude was forever in search of the transcendent, whereas Alonso seems weirdly fascinated by pure monotony. Left-field insanity at the end did jolt me awake, for which I am grateful.

  • Its myopic fixation on Josh’s problems never goes away, reducing what might have been a multi-layered exploration of long-term relationships into yet another tale of impotent masculine distress.

  • I won’t claim to understand exactly what the hell Alonso is doing here, but I can say with certainty that his control of the camera is astounding. He has pieced together something fascinating, full of aesthetic pleasures and perhaps a commentary on post-colonial events in the vein of How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman or the works of Raúl Ruiz.

  • Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja contains its own big narrative vault—one that left me behind on the opposite shore—but for most of its runtime the film is a compelling study in foreground and background tension and the weight of open spaces, shot in the 1.33:1 Academy Ratio with an antique, round-cornered frame.

  • The deformity of the European colonial project seems to alter the landscape as well as [Dinesen's] body, from watery shores crenellated with rock formations, to the dried out gray of the mountains. By the end Mortensen is a ragged wandering ghost, led by an undernourished dog to some kind of afterlife. The ending is a time-and-space shifting mystery that lays beyond my grasp, images of a fecund forest overgrowing the past, drawing me back in.

  • It’s a lovely, evocative, disturbing film, but just as we see a shot of the protagonist disappearing into a valley in a bleak landscape of black volcanic rocks, there is a cut to an epilogue set in a beautiful Danish castle. The daughter wakes up and goes for a walk with some dogs. End of film. How this is supposed to relate to the preceding story is a mystery, and one which thoroughly undercuts the tension slowly built up over the course of the Patagonian-set story.

  • Despite being Alonso’s first film to feature a bona fide movie star, Jauja (pronounced HOW-ha) is a logical extension of the patient, materialist cinema this filmmaker has been producing all along. However there is a distinctly new openness to movement, a decision to organize the film around roaming and, ultimately, being lost.

  • The film wraps its musings about colonial crimes in a great deal of wilderness symbolism. The plot is occasionally baffling, but the thematic point is not. Then again, “Jauja” is also thrillingly beautiful, and graced with Mortensen, who seizes the imagination even when he’s sniffing horse manure. It’s a movie designed for maximum intellectual appeal, even if the emotional impact is slight.

  • There’s that sense that a birth is being re-staged, and we’re returning to the days when just filming and projecting something constituted a kind of miracle. Except that this something is imaginary and, not to put too fine a point on it, _imaginative_. A bare horizon is like a black-box stage; it invites the viewer to accept the unseen, and treats every intrusion—a flayed body, a stray dog, a hand creeping into the frame out of nowhere—as an event.

  • This kind of insistent slow cinema is always dangerously near self-parody, but Alonso is exceptional at careful framing that transcends roteness and the cutting is careful to vary the duration of each shot: it’s not necessarily axiomatic that someone has to walk or ride across the entirety of a frame before a cut.

  • The trip may be Life Itself - starting on green lichens, ending on barren black rocks, topography shifting like in a Mann Western - or a trip into a dream-place, like Tarkovsky's Zone; the Message is a plea for understanding, without which dogs get frantic and "coconut heads" get exterminated; the vision is grand (esp. for Alonso), the colours vivid, the use of landscape breathtaking.

  • The choice of 4:3 is itself a historical throwback, aligning this with a tradition of image-making that stretches back to the old-time photographic processes these shots often evoke; in certain instances the colors pop out magnificently, in others they recede to a sort of remote sepia-toned minimalism.

  • ...Alonso doesn’t deliver an easy story, but a discourse from the otherness, from that other one that can’t see and that in a way appears in a tragic way in the loving relationship of two different characters, which show that that Jauja carries more of demon than a paradisiac fantasy... Yes, it’s surprising to see Alonso in this incursion in the terrain of the fantastic, and the qualities that have made him one of the more important filmmakers in Latin America is easily perceived.

  • Like most films that dream their way to transcendence, "Jauja", which is the name of a mythological land believed to be full of happiness, defies easy description. This film is a history (or memory?) of the place and the time locked inside it – and in that way Alonso has joined his kindred spirits such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Bela Tarr and Lav Diaz. And for all its eccentricities and quiet magic, "Jauja" is also one of the most beautiful and touching films showing at Cannes this year.

  • [The film is] radical not in a single moment but in a real, felt aggregation, as if the previous shots were not lost to be fogged by memory, but that image after image of the film stacks on top of one another... Many of these colors I haven't seen in film, a progression of mineral-like colors proceeding from the waterbound algae clinging to the coast to crystalline moss greens of nearby fields, the dry-faded straw greens of deeper brush, the nubbly ochre and yellows of inland rocky hills.

  • Shooting in Academy ratio, with the edges of the frame exposed to produce a picture-boxed look, Alonso turns his various aesthetic choices into consciously arcane signposts that point toward both influence and ideal. An entire school of bygone Portuguese masters (Oliveira, Reis, Cordeiro)—not to mention likeminded Chilean (Ruiz) and French (Straub-Huillet) formalists—are referenced in Alonso’s highly analytic and logistically arranged compositions.

  • It’s easy to accuse films like Alonso’s of being thin on narrative incident, a kind of journalistic euphemism for wishing such filmmakers would either get with the program and make “normal” movies like everyone else or stop wasting our precious time. But those open to other possibilities in cinematic language may marvel at Alonso’s ability to hold a viewer rapt through little more than landscape, movement and sound, and ideas that emerge implicitly rather than being directly stated.

  • The sensory attentiveness and sheer physicality of Alonso’s cinema reaches new heights here—one might even say it pushes up against the limits of time and space in the film’s thrilling coda. Alonso, not yet forty, is at the opposite end of his career from Godard, but Jauja was a revelation on par with Goodbye to Language: a work of tremendous beauty and a source of continual surprise, affirming the powers of the medium while expanding, in more ways than one, into new dimensions.

  • [Jauja] is a cinematic feat unparalleled in Un Certain Regard, and stands alongside Jean-Luc Godard’s Adieu de langage as one of the two pillars of this year’s festival.

  • Like a Proustian device, a film is the place where different worlds come together, where dreams, memory, history, and desire become one, where there’s no distance between actors, characters, and filmmakers, between facts, stories, and legends. The secret is that Jauja, the promised land that men dream of, is cinema itself.

  • Jauja, shot by Aki Kaurismäki’s usual DP Timo Salminen on 35mm in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, is a stunning visual achievement: almost every image is an adventure in color and light, and there are many passages that manage to divine the color values of Manet without any apparent trickery or manipulation. Jaujais, like all of Alonso’s films, both a feat and a small-scale wonder, but the more intricate narrative framework actually adds a whole new dimension.

  • With long sequences largely absent of dialogue, a circular narrative echoing Kafka’s The Castle, and a mystifying temporal/geographical shift late in the piece, Alonso’s latest film is almost entirely inscrutable, but invigoratingly so; perhaps, indeed, it is the strangely numinous quality of the film that is its greatest enigma.

  • The opening sequences contain possibly more dialogue than all of Alonso’s earlier films combined, and build a misleadingly sturdy, Fordian premise that the rest of the film proceeds to luminously dismantle. (When a character declares that “the desert devours everything,” the effect is not one of foreboding threat but of magical potential.)

  • Framed in Academy ratio, the film makes nature unnatural, producing tableaux vivants of frontier archetypes such as native warriors, indentured laborers, runaway lovers. Isolated in the square frame, these figures occupy their own still lives, subtly illuminating colonial and cinematic history.

  • A movie that had begun by focusing on mere carnality — hell, the Argentinian captain was jerking off in plain sight of the girl’s daddy — shifts gears with a cut and dares pierce other dimensions. Alonso has chutzpah in spades: he brings to life an updated Twilight Zone-like effect inside a square with rounded corners, very silent cinema, as antiquated a shape as you could come up with. A multitasking genius, he ruptures time both inside and outside the frame.

  • The Argentine director Lisandro Alonso refracts John Ford’s classic Western “The Searchers” into a modernist blend of myth, politics, and existential adventure... As the story veers into mythopoetic wonders, some of its literary tropes get heavy-handed, but Alonso’s audacious leaps of time, his incisive view of the wiles of combat and the rigors of survival, and his ingenious reflection of present-day splendors in past plunder lend the visually sumptuous experience a haunting depth.

  • The route traced by Jauja [follows] a logic that feels wholly new to Alonso’s cinema... With its romantic imagery and the Scandinavian roots of its protagonist, the film is curiously reminiscent of silent Victor Sjöström adventures like Terje Vigen and The Outlaw and His Wife—tales of solitary masculinity set against nature’s raw ferocity.

  • Bresson’s name has followed Alonso throughout his career, but never has it seemed less appropriate than here, where the Argentinian director is allowing plenty of space for his star to craft his own spontaneous screen persona, not to mention composing dimensionally layered shots that contrast the flatness of Bresson’s mise-en-scène.

  • ...All of this pulls the film into an interesting conversation with classical cinema. What emerges from this encounter is an overwhelming sense of all the frictions—all the multiple points of abrasion and resistance—between this film and the studio-era works that partly inspire it. I registered these frictions most acutely when Jauja was, paradoxically, closest to classical cinema.

  • The starting point might be read as an allegory about colonialism but what makes Jauja such a beautiful film is how Alonso turns Argentina into pure film myth. This really is sett not in 19th century Argentina but in the land of cinema possibilities, every one of its movements adding more elements and new possible paths.

  • A desperation to maintain order and family traditions, this time in the midst of the wilderness of Patagonia, lies at the heart of Lisandro Alonso’s wonderfully droll first scripted feature, the western period drama Jauja... Alonso lays bare this prim and proper Danish soldier’s inability to adapt to either reality or his environment. Wonderfully incarnated by Viggo Mortensen, he cuts an absurd, desperately quixotic figure in his already doomed quest.

  • This idea of beyond is everywhere in Jauja, and is especially suggested by the narrowed frame. Alonso uses long takes and keeps his camera static, letting action pass in and out of its compass. When Inge and Corto leave their horse to graze and she leads him away by the hand, the sounds of their moving besides or behind us sign to another film unfurling elsewhere – as if the characters could opt in or out of being storied.

  • In Jauja, Lisandro Alonso renders a colonial-era setting with techniques from the beginning of cinema right up to its bleeding edge, so that watching it is at once like being transported to the past, and standing on a precipice over a thunderously onflowing (alternate?) future.

  • Jauja is a complex, impure (in the Bazinian sense) text, borrowing its cinematic references from the Western to Glauber Rocha’s early films (the moments suggesting, off-screen, the exactions of a cross-dressing rebel, Zuluaga, seem a distant echo of Black God, White Devil/Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol, 1964) – without the pre-Cheyenne Autumn (John Ford, 1964) robust exuberance of the former, and the baroque excesses of the latter.

  • Jauja is captivating, not least because of Alonso's ability to capture the cruel beauty of the natural landscape — you can almost see the earth itself refusing to accept European imperialism blithely.

  • It would be glib to suggest that Jauja represents a step toward the mainstream: the film is as uncompromised as anything Alonso has ever made, even as it surpasses its predecessors in several areas, including sheer visual beauty.

  • Nothing looks or feels quite like Jauja, Argentine writer-director Lisandro Alonso’s sixth feature, and a departure both from his previous work and most contemporary filmmaking. Shot in glorious, color-saturated, 35mm film and framed in the classic academy ratio, Jauja takes a basic Western scenario and follows it to a point that defies elucidation, where what felt archaic proves to be timeless and the horse opera becomes a fairy tale.

  • Towards the end of Lisandro Alonso’s haunting fourth feature and first masterpiece “Jauja,” a disembodied voice asks, “What is it that makes a life function and move forward?” The question is a cunning bit of misdirection, because at that moment, the movie shifts focus and leaps around in time. The line ought to make sense of what’s come before it, or at the very least explain what happens next. Really all it does is change the tenor of the film’s slightly hallucinatory exhaustion.

  • Jauja’s minimal dialogue makes it the chattiest film in Alonso’s oeuvre, following a script collaboration with the poet Fabián Casas, but the real alchemy here is the result of the director’s pairing with cinematographer Timo Salminen. The square frame, presented in the 1.33 Academy ratio, imposes an unyielding visual border onto an otherwise borderless world, so that movement itself—whether within or beyond the picture’s edges—becomes the film’s primary source of drama.

  • The landscapes remind us that ’Scope is not indispensable for evoking vastness: the tight parameters of these frames encourage us to imagine an infinity outside their edges. Rich colors suggest both dream and the artifice of Hollywood Westerns: deep blue clouds on a sky fading to yellow at its base resemble a painted backdrop; pools of golden firelight in a night shot are manifestly lit, as if on a studio set.

  • It's one of the rare films one can describe as a series of paintings come to life. Shot on 35mm film in 4x3 aspect ratio (the shape of old movies, complete with rounded frame-edges), it allows Alonso to further hone his style of picking a shot and sticking with it as long as he possibly can, while characters move slowly through the frame, or sit still and talk, or think, or be.

  • Watching Jauja, which is certainly one of the best films of the year, I never once doubted that I was in the hands of a master filmmaker. For all its seeming austerity, the film pulls you along with incredible force — not unlike the way it pulls its lonely protagonist, played by Viggo Mortensen, along on his quixotic, dreamlike journey.

  • [It has] a suggestive, multivalent title that names without quite explaining, and with the story’s enigmatic deviations from a purely physical journey, Jauja itself ultimately manifests the urge to escape from a certain narrative—and for Alonso, an attempt to blaze a new path.

  • Call it calculated caution, but the beauty of this film comes from its patent refusal to say what it is and what it’s about, resulting in a perpetual sense of renewed intrigue and a constant hunger for the fragments of story to neatly interlock. In a world divested of conventional meaning, banal objects such as a toy soldier or a mangy mutt somehow become vital totems of significance even though it’s never certain how or why.

  • In what is a bold step in his career, Alonso reaches well beyond neo-neorealism to shape an elusive, dreamlike amalgam of diverse times, levels and encounters. While still employing the steady, dispassionate, contemplative camera-eye of his earlier work, Alonso takes Jauja more in the direction of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films – a type of cinema in which the materiality of landscapes and political histories is melded with the magical, transformative elements of fairytale and myth.

  • Lisandro Alonso's Jauja should be seen on a big screen or not at all. Crucial scenes of this art house spectacle transpire in extreme long-shot, the actors presented as mere dots on the Patagonian Desert landscapes where the action unfolds.

  • Lisandro Alonso's JAUJA begins following a deceptively familiar arc, detours into mythic territory, and pushes further still somewhere altogether unknowable.

  • There’s a scene in The Knick where characters are blown away watching “The Big Swallow” in a kinetoscope. That’s what I feel like watching Jauja—like I’m looking through a window into some mythic realm so unfamiliar it’s spooky. The corners are rounded, the colors are yellowed, the exotic landscape is hiding all kinds of secrets.

  • A military officer drags himself across a blazing landscape where he does not belong. Time and space reveal themselves to be more malleable than was once presumed. Old relationships untangle and new ones form; obscured trails become harder to follow. But water keeps flowing, grass keeps growing, and rocks are worn by rain and wind. An inexact synopsis, perhaps, but that should at least get across the thrust of this sublime, oneiric movie.

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