Friday, January 18, 2013

Sundance ’13: The Capsule (short)

There are plenty of fantastical happenings in this girls’ finishing school, but it certainly is no Hogwarts.  Clémence Poésy’s Harry Potter fans will not know what to make of it.  Part fashion show, part art installation, but entirely experimental cinema, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s The Capsule screens as part of the New Frontiers Shorts Program at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Six young women have arrived in mysterious ways at an ancient coastal villa for metaphysical instructions on becoming women.  This naturally includes music classes and lessons on how to look elegant while walking your goat.  Narrative is decidedly slippery here, but it is definitely inspired by Sisyphus, Prometheus, and Sappho, as well as the art of co-writer Aleksandra Waliszewska.

For part-time cover-waif Poésy and her co-stars, The Capsule is as much a modeling assignment as it is an acting gig. The costumes by leading designers, including the only mildly fetishistic school uniforms, are quite striking, but the faded glory of the villa and exotic surrounding environs are Capsule’s strongest asset.  However, the super-imposed animation would not have cut it on MTV’s Liquid Television back in the day.
Expressly intended for adventurous viewers, the thirty-five minute Capsule is nonetheless unusually stylish by experimental standards.  Cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis gives it all a cool, glossy sheen appropriate to its neo-gothic austerity.  Recommended for New Frontiers track veterans and uncommonly hardy fashonistas, The Capsule screens as part the NF shorts block at this year’s Sundance.