Thoughts on The Nothing Factory (A Fábrica de Nada 2017)

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a series on the 2018 Taipei Film Festival.

The fiction debut of Portuguese documentarian Pedro Pinho, The Nothing Factory (A Fábrica de Nada 2017) has difficulty shedding documentary elements in favor of narrative staples such as an arc, backstory, emotional stakes, or even differentiated characters. Instead, the film captures each scene in a naturalistic, equanimous non-style, assuming incorrectly that they have the requisite attraction to motivate the film.

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Thoughts on So Help Me God (Ni jouge, ni soumise 2017)

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a series on the 2018 Taipei Film Festival.

So Help Me God (Ni juge, ni soumise 2017) is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that follows Belgian examining magistrate (preliminary judge) Anne Gruwez as she works a cold case while dealing with her everyday “clientele,” as she calls them: the newly arrested who Gruwez must book within 24 hours or set free. I’ve discussed documentary form previously, and nothing here makes me reconsider my position. So I’ll just make some observations on the content.

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Wachowskis Unbound: Speed Racer (2008)

In The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich wrote (p302), “Digital cinema is a particular case of animation that uses live-action footage as one of its many elements.” While the first film this brings to mind may be The Matrix (1999), the Keanu Reeves-narrated documentary Side by Side (2012) explains how every film is now a digital film, and shows how every single element is fundamentally manipulable. Non-documentary cinema (and even some forms of documentary) has lost its indexicality to the real, in form and therefore in substance, something that most cinephiles lament—witness the loathing of TV motion smoothing. But what if a film were to celebrate its (oxymoronic) simulacral nature? What if, instead of trying to pass as realistic, a film embraced its artificiality? Well, then we might get Speed Racer (2008).

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