Manifesto Screen 77 of 14 reviews

Manifesto

2015

Manifesto Poster
  • The film is, in effect, a cacophonous echo box of contradictory visions, but what’s common to all these is their confrontational nature: never more evident than at the very end, when Blanchett’s ragged, bearded Homeless Man (the voice of Situationism) turns to the camera and rages, “We, of whom you believe yourself to be the judges, will one day judge you.” DP Christoph Krauss gives the film a vivid elegance in keeping with the opulent production values of much gallery film today.

  • The description of "Manifesto" sounds like an arch exercise in style, or, worse, a self-indulgent snoozefest... But that's not what it is at all... Rosefeldt has collaborated with Blanchett to create something entirely unique and not easily described or classified. The film is thought-provoking, visually arresting, and occasionally very self-important (appropriate, since a manifesto is a declaration of self-importance). The most surprising thing is how funny "Manifesto" is, on occasion.

  • Who knew Cate Blanchett wanted to be Tracey Ullman? That's probably not the reaction director Julian Rosefeldt hopes will be stirred by this rigorous series of monologues... But, like Ullman, Blanchett takes the external markers of her characters (costumes, hair, makeup) and internalizes a persona for each, imbued with a distinct accent and body language. It's the exercise of impersonation as a process of revelation, and it’s marked by a surprising lightness.

  • As an installation, “Manifesto” may have seemed like a sensory onslaught. As a movie, it’s a very elaborate intellectual exercise, immaculate in every technical detail. And Ms. Blanchett’s work here is aptly cerebral. As virtuosic as her performances are, they’re purposely conscious of themselves. As an oblique examination and critique of political and art history and their various interactions over the 20th century, “Manifesto” is both witty and provocative.

  • I saw the installation twice this year at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. Both times I left the space exhilarated, infected by the rhapsodic confidence of the manifesto writers.

  • Blanchett has no fear as a performer... She is such an acting prodigy that she needs to be properly challenged, and “Manifesto” is such a challenging and unlikely project that Blanchett uses her talent as she never has before, splashing it all over the screen and making bold gestures that only become physically overdone when she plays an Eastern European choreographer in a turban.

  • Whether she’s a prim homemaker intoning Malevich’s Suprematist call for truth over sincerity to her children at the dinner table as if it were grace, a dishevelled homeless man in an apocalyptic wasteland declaring the old world dead, or a wasted party reveller praising a century illuminated by electricity, Blanchett’s performance has a chameleon bravura that turns what could have been a dry conceptual exercise into a hilariously absurdist provocation.

  • The picture is not just about art but about art as imperative to the survival of man... All this may sound as if the film strives, like the manifestos it draws from, to intellectualise the issues at hand. However, on the contrary, the work is entirely concerned with emotional charge. Like Kiarostami, Rosefeldt explores cerebral engagement by going for the gut.

  • So many of the texts used in Manifesto directly contradict one another, and Rosefeldt frequently selects the passages from his chosen texts that, while exhibiting the greatest rhetorical flourish, sound least convincing out of context. In light of this, we can assume that Manifesto is not a film that actually aims to convince us of anything in particular. Instead, it is a consideration of the formal language traits of the manifesto, its status as a speech act.

  • Manifesto’s visual inventiveness and Blanchett’s multifarious performances make the movie consistently engrossing, even when the relationship between Blanchett’s character and the words coming out of her mouth – or, more often in this version, spoken by her in voiceover – seem purely arbitrary.

  • There's no dialogue, just recitations of manifestos about art—plus the excerpt from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels's Communist Manifesto that kicks off the first scene. That may sound like a recipe for didactic miserabilism, but the film is vibrant and engaging, even entertaining. What it's not is particularly thought-provoking.

  • It’s difficult to find anything but effort to recommend the film. Spliced and layered, stripped of their contexts, gathered just because they are available, the manifestos lose whatever meaning they once held. The only property revealed by this arrangement is the shrillness and obtuseness of the texts.

  • Directed by Julian Rosefeldt, the film was adapted from a 13-screen art installation, so it's hard not to compare the film to that version. For one thing, it'd probably be 13 times shorter. For another, perhaps the option to leave would make it more palatable.

  • [The declarations] sound like the utterances of a high-school student giving his teacher a hard time. Removed from the cultural moment in which they were created, brought to life from the portentous pages of art history textbooks, and placed into the mouths of women trying to get things done, these text fragments become more like the cries of an adolescent visionary, perpetually misunderstood in a way that feels, while endearingly romantic, also presumptuous and privileged.

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