There is a special type of voyage, a kind of ceaseless
border-crossing that I seek in cinema: the skidding between or merging of
different genres, tones, filmic approaches …
I felt the same powerful sensation that I did upon encountering Ana Poliak’s Faith of the Volcano back in 2001: that
of straying back and across an extremely thin, light, permeable barrier between
fiction and documentary – thanks, mainly, to the “affordances” (as we say
today) of digital filming.
What Summer does, essentially, is what has defined modern cinema since at least Roberto Rossellini’s Voyage in Italy (1953): compelling your performers to
actually travel somewhere by car or train or foot, enter a real holiday resort,
interact with actual local inhabitants – and to strike the roughly pre-planned
fiction (as one strikes a match) off the fabric of these quotidian happenings.
But the digital camera technology allows this
trembling slippage between registers in a new way. José Luis Torres Leiva is a
filmmaker I like. In his haunting, mutely essayistic documentary haunting Three Weeks Later (2010), he used all
the resources of static camera and long take that this new form allows. Here,
by contrast, he pushes almost into Philippe Grandrieux territory (if we can
imagine a summery rather than nocturnal and wintry Grandrieux!), with extensive
overexposure and blur.
Summer is one of those movies so
light you feel it could vanish at any moment – Grandrieux’s own digital
portrait-piece Masao Adachi, unveiled
the same year, had that aura as well. This is actually quite an achievement,
something hard to do in cinema – all the Old Masters (Jean Renoir, Alain
Resnais, Bernardo Bertolucci) longed for that Mozartian touch sustained over an
entire feature, as part and parcel of their so-called “late styles”.
© Adrian Martin March 2012