Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Songs From the Second Floor

Per the recommendation of The Young Hegelian, who, by the way, has proven himself to me to have nothing but exquisite taste when it comes to movies, last night I watched Roy Andersson's magnificent Songs from the Second Floor. The patchwork of beautifully crafted episodes and interludes, highlighted by its smart, stilled camera, require patience of you, but it is not in vain. One ought not expect some inane coincidence to successfully link or resolve everything in a tight narrative. This is no 21 Grams or Pulp Fiction. If there is a linkage at all, it is the absurd triviality at the heart of modern capitalist culture (in his case, modern capitalist Sweden).

What makes Andersson's vision so significant is that, while religion, politics, capitalism, and culture are unabashedly skewered, he is sensitive to the beauty and the humor that they also evoke -- in spite of themselves. We are, he seems to be saying, programmed by them all to miss the horror and the humor of the mundane rhythms of life. As such, we're stuck, as though in a traffic jam ... or as though in a train door ... or as though in a sanitarium for the mentally ill or the old. And the only way out, seemingly, is the haunting guilt, because of our resigned capitulation that 'such is life', of having been accessories to untold death and misery.