was no accident Brutalism served as the unofficial architectural style of
Communism. Its oppressive and imposing nature perfectly served the Party’s
purposes. Assumed to be the most functional art form, architecture’s
ideological aspects are often overlooked by the general public, but they hang spectral-like
over the conspiratorial characters of the French-based Irish artist John Lalor’s
enigmatic short film Incident Urbain (trailer here), which screened
during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
simply as the Colonel and Costello, two old comrades meet outside the Bibliothèque
nationale de France, discussing architecture and radical aesthetics, while
skirting their rather complicated shared history. The esplanade surrounding the
library is not exactly homey. It rather deliberately overwhelms casual
pedestrians, but they seem to like that. They also enjoy the ironies of
Dominique Perrault’s post-modernist twist on good old van der Rohe
glass-and-steel, chuckling over reports the massive sunlight exposure literally
cooks the books.
they perambulate the plaza, they name-check several avant-garde icons including
Samuel Beckett, Marin Karmitz (the founder of the MK2 shingle, which will soon
have a retrospective at MoMA) and most fittingly Jean-Luc Godard, whose surreal
caper Alphaville might be the best
comparison to Incident. There is a
strange sense of menace lurking throughout the film, but the long
impressionistic opening sequence of an owl in flight will have many viewers
checking out before it even gets to its elliptical narrative (such as it is).
is definitely not meant for the rabble, but it
has a vivid sense of place that contributes to the mounting uneasiness. Cesar
award-winning cinematographer (and regular Alain Resnais collaborator) Eric
Gautier gives it a strikingly Bauhaus-noir gloss. Unfortunately, Incident only screened before Karpotrotter, a mid-length experimental
hybrid that was a really tough go, so most short fans who might have
appreciated it, probably missed it. A provocative oddball of a film, Incident Urbain deserves to find its
post-post-structuralist audience following its North American premiere at this
year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Labels: Experimental Film, French Cinema, Short Films, Tribeca '14