January 13 - JAUJA (2014)
"All families disappear eventually, even if it takes a long time."
JAUJA is a gorgeous, slow-paced, surreal film. Every single shot in the movie is immaculately composed, and each is often held far longer than you would expect. Viggo Mortensen plays a Danish military captain charged with exterminating the natives in an unspecified (I think) desert region. His daughter runs off with a young soldier, and he sets off to find her. The stage is set for a western, or a romance, or an action film - but what follows is nothing of the sort.
Sure, Viggo chases after his daughter, but it's a plodding, patient chase. The little action that occurs is framed in an ultra-wide shot, as is much of the rest of the film. Rarely is there a scene with more than one angle for coverage, and with the 4:3 aspect ratio, the rounded corners of the frame, the costumes, the scenery, and the lighting, JAUJA feels as much a painting as it does a movie. There are some truly beautiful scenes in this movie, some screenshots of which I feel compelled to share with you:
JAUJA takes an unexpected turn at a certain point, but saying anything more than that would likely lessen the impact of seeing it for yourself. I highly recommend JAUJA if you're in the mood for a slower film that's more than it appears. This is exactly the type of movie I wanted to watch with my "Under the Radar" category, so it seems like we're off to a good start. Tomorrow: On the Record.