Amazing opening, EO introduced as circus donkey to Sandra Drzymalska, some strong scenes and visuals, finally dribbles to a less amazing ending, Eo being marched to execution.
He’s repoed from the circus and spends some time with a horse breeder… mopes around a petting zoo, escapes after a visit from his former owner… wanders through a wolfy forest into town where he becomes a football team’s mascot then is beaten half to death by rival hooligans… after recovering, he violently refuses to take part in an animal slaughter operation. We were watching Poker Face the same week, and besides the Okja veganism, the two shows share socially awkward truckers getting into serious trouble.
Weirder and more pathological than expected. Yes I’ve seen In Bruges, but that starts out in a violent context while this is about gentle island people in 1923. We get a hell of a character from Brendan Gleeson, who abruptly wants to be left alone to write fiddle tunes, showing he’s serious by psychotically mutilating himself until he can’t play anymore. We get a sick payoff to Barry Keoghan finding a stick with a hook (“What would you use it for, I wonder… to hook things that were the length of a stick away?”), the loss of a great donkey, a shitty cop, some terrible loneliness, and a nearby civil war nobody seems to comprehend.
A movie where the main dialogue scene is about finding truth in film performances, which also spends 15+ minutes watching middle schoolers perform Hamlet. Bookend scenes feature a dog who hunts and eats a rabbit palling around with a quiet donkey. Someone hops a fence and collapses at a gravesite to an M. Ward song. Happy to see Franz Rogowski in a small part.
Astrid deals with a kid who’s in trouble at school, and a defective bicycle she bought secondhand from a disabled man. She meets a director whose film she hated and talks his ear off about his poor cinema decisions. A good-looking movie, I enjoyed spending time with it, even if I haven’t figured out what it’s on about. Been hearing about Schanelec for a while, mostly from Cinema Scope – before this came out, Blake Williams called her films “notoriously evasive” and says she “presents us with only enough narrative so that we feel our desire for narrative.”
Manolo decides to travel from Spain with his loyal donkey GorriÃ³n and hike the Trail of Tears in America. His daughter is supportive, but Manolo has had some health concerns, and it’s hard to find budget transportation for a man and a donkey (and his dog Zafrana). He deals with corporate and government bureaucracy and with a donkey who quietly refuses to cross a bridge for hours on end. It’s a pretty minor story (Manolo doesn’t take the trip) but the filmmaker captures a loving portrait of his uncle Manolo, some Bela Tarr close-ups of the implacable donkey, and a nice windmill shot at the end to justify the title.
Pereira, from an essential interview by Pamela Cohn in Filmmaker:
More than anything, I think that Manoloâ€™s relationship with these animals is what the film is documenting. In other words, I think itâ€™s the most documentary aspect. From the beginning, both Zafrana and GorriÃ³n are almost in every shot, and we always see the three of them together … And they communicate with one another in various ways â€” man to animal, and also animal to animal. This is a way of understanding friendship or understanding how humans and animals can enrich each otherâ€™s lives, opening our own concepts of friendship and spending complex time with non-humans.