Film Bitch History
Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.


Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!


Comment Fun

MINDHUNTER (s2 episodes 1-2) 

"I am also a big fan of this show, because of Fincher and the detective work, even if the show skirts very close sometimes to murderer fetish..." - Jono

"I love this show. I binged 7 of the 9 episodes and could have finished but I wanted to savor it a little longer. It's such an engrossing show and beautifully filmed" -Raul

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 461 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience



Directors of For Sama

Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

What'cha Looking For?
« Curio: Clay Creations | Main | Sundance: Mark Ruffalo is a Bipolar Bear »

Sundance: Puccini Goes Avant-Garde

Sundance coverage continues with Glenn on "The Girl from Nagasaki"

Avant-garde cinema isn’t for all audiences. The Girl from Nagasaki proves that it’s not for all directors, either. For whatever virtues Michel Conte has as an artist and a photographer (of which I am unfamiliar), filmmaking may not be of the same league. His debut feature, co-directed alongside his wife Ayako Yoshida, is a wild re-interpretation of Puccini’s famed Japanese-set opera, Madame Butterfly that dissolves into an assault of seemingly meaningless imagery; an experimental, visually symphonic and unfortunately misjudged piece of cinema.

Taking the story of Cio-Cio San and her breakdown at the absence of her American soldier husband and father of her child, Conte’s film at least fails while attempting something bizarrely different. Sadly, in his effort to turn the table on the conventions of narrative film, he has crafted a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster with bits and pieces grafted from the likes of Peter Greenaway, Tarsem Singh and Alejandro Jodorowsky and yet which lacks the profound power found in those artists’ works and compositions. Including crucifixion and BDSM fetish imagery, performance art and meta stylisation, it can’t help but feel like a confused hodge-podge of ideas that never form into a compelling whole.

Beginning with what appears to be a (admittedly impressive) visual effects company demo-reel of the explosion of the nuclear bomb over Nagasaki, it’s worth it as a work of intriguing technological ideas – and in 3D no less – but Conte falls too often into the sort of ridiculous embellishments that people mock experimental cinema for. I’m not sure what the director was trying to say with repetitive sequences of Geisha women rolling around in slick paint, but I assume he got the idea from a fashion photography layout. At the opposite end, a sequence involving David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” is particularly laughable for its bonkers and obvious use of symbolism. By the time Cio-Cio’s descent into mental breakdown occurs in the third act there is little to distinguish it from the rest of the movie.

Unlike some of the giants of avant-garde cinema like Luis Buñuel’s kinetic and disturbing Un Chien Andelou, Bruce Conner’s own nuclear bomb montage Crossroads, or Sidney Peterson’s The Petrified Dog, Conte’s film wears out its welcome all to quickly around the time Christopher Lee (!!) emerges amidst a dinner party of faceless Japanese geisha mannequins. The images, some intoxicating and beautiful, rarely feel as if they hold any weight or new insight into the tragic operatic tale. I’ve had Malcolm McLaren’s delicious 1984 “Madame Butterfly” in my head ever since seeing it, and at only six minutes long it still proves to be a radically more satisfying twist on the Puccuni original than The Girl from Nagasaki

Grade: C-
Distribution: Unlikely, although even whilst disliking the film I would applaud anybody for taking it on board. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (3)

... And now I wanna see it for how art-ridic it might be.

January 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

Unfortunately for you I have seen the movie and I can say that you did not understand the depth and beauty of this opera.
It Is useless and obvious to quote so many directors to help your poor and mean review, in which you did not quote any positive element.
This is a new kind of opera but sadly you do not have enough sensitivity, and skills to free and open your mind eyes and ears.
Sorry for my english I'm a foreigner.

January 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGoro!!!

Totally agree with above comment from Goro!!!. The reviewer simply does NOT understand much less comprehend, the beauty and profoundness of the film. Maybe Americans only "understand" their usual and banal Hollywood garbage. Too sad someones consider those "critics" as knowledgeable people. Evidently, they are wrong.

July 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmclaussen

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>