Night Across the Street Screen 16 articles

Night Across the Street

2012

Night Across the Street Poster
  • Night Across the Street too often degenerates into long perorations or overworked metaphors. Time and again, whatever momentum the story has gathered is lost as people gather in a room to listen dutifully as one or more of their number delivers a speech, and the alarm clocks that surround Celso are a much clunkier reminder than those marbles of the passage of time.

  • The film is very much the proverbial ‘poem in images,’ and a truly free-associative one, in vintage Ruiz style.”

  • He assembles a bouquet (if a bouquet was on the scale of a chandelier) of talismanic wordplay, doubled objects and meanings (for example, the gun barrel becomes a tunnel between this world and the next), and imagery both sacred and profane, but the film seems to deflate as it tries to reconcile the cosmic playfulness for which he's known with a decidedly more unilateral farewell party. As a last pass through this Chilean visionary's holographic dreamscapes, however, it's one hell of a goodbye.

  • It’s quintessential Ruiz, not as rich or as focused as “Mysteries of Lisbon” but witty and clever, filled with swirling motifs and stories within stories, past merging with the present, memories and imagination with reality (if there is such a thing as objective reality in a Ruiz vision). Life is just another story and the meaning is all in the telling.

  • This surreal, sentimental journey does provide an excellent encapsulation of everything Ruiz did best: oddball takes on highbrow lit and lowbrow genre conventions, guided tours of characters’ mazelike memory banks, and a reveling in film culture that doubles as a cinephile’s wet dream.

  • Shot digitally, like Mysteries, the film presents a flattening of worlds, that of the characters' actions, the actors' existence, a beautiful record of a passing city, all has been made one single, flat image, legible but uncanny, at once united and discreet, times and places, fictions and reality pressed unto inextricably in the pixels.

  • Disorienting, nostalgic, and mournful, but alive with personality and an undying exuberance, La noche de enfrente is Ruiz’s last will and testament, a beautiful, affecting bookend to a career that never stood still.

  • Night Across the Street is not just a comma in Ruiz’s filmography—it is the period. While many perceived Mysteries and the pataphysical Ballet aquatique (2011) as his last will and testament, Night Across the Street is the meeting point for all the wanderers who inhabited his universe. A meta-Ruizian film, it unlocks the secret recesses and false compartments of his entire oeuvre, and allows us to see it from an entirely new perspective.

  • This is a most joyous vision. There are Proustian incantations and CGI screens, peerlessly elegant visual jokes, a personal look at Chile’s past that’s more resonantly political than any of Pablo Larraín’s Pinochet-era dramas, plus an absurdly lovely metaphor for filmmaking in the main character’s collection of model ships in bottles. Aptly, it closes on a séance: Here we are attempting to analyze a great director’s swan song, while he chuckles softly from the hereafter.

  • Often abstruse yet always involving, filled with esoteric philosophical dialogue, sinuous camera moves and imagery ported straight from the subconscious, this is as fine a last will and testament as any cinema master has given us.

  • Throughout his life, Ruiz sought to respond to the world’s finite number of official histories with an infinite number of imagined stories, free of all constraints, including mortality. “You can’t kill yourself. You lend yourself to death,” Don Celso tells Jean Giono, echoing one of Ruiz’s favorite maxims: “Dying is no big thing.” In time, the film shows death to be just a place across the street, and when people go there, friends await them.

  • Ingenious digital effects turn nostalgic and chatty home-town strolls into dreamlike adventures, but ultra-low-tech toys become Ruiz’s tenderly exuberant metaphor for the surprising ricochets of an entire lifetime’s play of memory.

  • The film’s quietly triumphant ending only proves Celso’s maxim that “you can’t kill yourself, [only] lend yourself to death”—which for Ruiz meant lending himself to the movies. His wise, playful swan song is no monument or testament. It’s something much less showy and much more private: something of Ruiz himself, hosting radio shows, playing with marbles, and dreaming of Beethoven from beyond the grave, in the flickering light of the screen.

  • Proof that Ruiz was still teeming with ideas himself, Night is a characteristic work of surreal wit and circuitousness—and the filmmaker's winking but mournful goodbye.

  • Time "stumbles" in Night and "doesn't pass. The hours don't follow one another." Time seems both static and elastic, space ever pliable, in Ruiz's crumbling funhouse, and events rarely ensue with any logic, causality, or certitude... As Night Across the Street so movingly proves, the world is immeasurably diminished by his absence.

  • A charming riff on some of the Chilean director's favorite subjects—time, memory, language, and death—and among his most inventive works. . . . Although the book does not appear to be available in English, the introduction to the Spanish text identifies del Solar—who was born in 1901—as a modernist, describing him as the “critic as narrator”—a fusion also applicable to Ruiz, whose reflexive aesthetics and insatiable appetite for storytelling are both evident here.

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