Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014)


The latest from acclaimed Argentinian auteur Lisandro Alonso finds him working for the first time with a major international movie-star in a recognizable genre. Viggo Mortensen stars in a Western about a Danish cartographer attached to a military expedition in 19th Century Patagonia. When his 15 year old daughter runs off with a young soldier, he sets off on an increasingly weird quest across the desert wilderness, part Ethan Edwards in The Searchers, part William Blake in Dead Man. Like many so-called Slow Cinema films, the cinematic form that has become the dominant international style for festival films and the better art houses, Jauja is paced deliberately, with long takes and very little camera movement, the characters framed at a distance such that they are dwarfed by both the landscapes and, importantly, the sounds of their environment. It certainly isn’t among the slowest of such films (Pedro Costa’s equally impeccable Horse Money (hopefully coming soon to Seattle Screens?) is even more meditative, among great 2014 films), and seeing it a second time I actually found it quite brisk (it’s possible my speedometer has been miscalibrated after a month watching New Taiwanese Cinema films).

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