Rock Bottom Riser (2021, Fern Silva)

I’d meant to play this movie again the next day at work, just listening in the headphones, because the unexpected music and the way every interviewee had a different sort of audio processing on their voice was striking. But the rental expired and I had to settle for the Smog song.

Definitely on the avant-garde side of the documentary spectrum, but with terrific sound. Some very joyful edits. Before watching I read the Sicinski Cinema Scope article twice, and now want to watch all of Silva’s movies. Already by the time the opening title hit, the movie’s physical nature was nothing like I’d imagined. The talking heads are never shot in standard doc style, and he talks around the issues we imagined it’d confront head-on, but productively. The island/ocean nature calls back nicely to our last T/F movie of 2020, and still the last movie we’ve seen in theaters, Ma┼éni. Volcanic lava and disputed native lands, with Rat Film levels of digression.

By showing us a collage of discontinuous moments from a given lifeworld, Silva expresses the density of any given social formation, its atmospheric pervasiveness and resonance. As such, his films show us things that serve to emphasize just how much we cannot know … What Silva shows quite clearly through his oblique strategy of creative nonfiction is that the radical flattening of culture and history on which global capital thrives actually has its limits.

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