Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Leviathan (2013) ***½

NR, 87 min.
Directors: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel
Featuring: Captain Brian Jannelle

I have no idea how they filmed “Leviathan”. It is a documentary about a fishing vessel. There is no dialogue, no commentary, no explanations. That’s not to say there is no narrative. There are long passages of film when it is impossible to tell just what you’re looking at, including the opening sequence.

You sit there trying to piece together the fractured images you’re seeing. Slowly you begin to put this piece with that and eventually you realized you are looking at one of those big fishing nets being hauled aboard a boat as the crew readies themselves to prepare the catch. There are aspects of what you see that are revolting. There are episodes of dreary routine. Have you ever wondered where scallops come from? You won’t after seeing this movie.

The reason I don’t know how they filmed this, however, is because there are also sequences where the camera splashes below the surface of the water. Sure, I suppose there are underwater cameras for those types of things, but the camera in this movie is tossed about underneath the waves and on top of them. It’s pelted by debris being tossed off the boat and even attacked by flocks of seagulls. The gulls are so ravenous, I’m tempted to refer to them as a murder instead of a flock.

I don’t know how they didn’t absolutely destroy hundreds of cameras. Maybe they did. Anyway, the whole thing becomes a bit of a meditation after a while. Even the captain of the ship drifts off in one sequence. I’m sure this movie won’t play well for everyone, but it is a fascination.

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