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AFI Fest Review: Carré Blanc, Into the Abyss

Posted by Charles Reece, November 20, 2011 11:18pm | Post a Comment
carré blanc poster

Writer-director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti's first feature-length is a re-imagining of Soylent Green by way of Children of Men. That is, the poor are used as food, but there is a pervasive concern for keeping the world populated (represented by an omnipresent count, the 'white square' of the title being most literally the recurring digitized zero). Instead of being the structural underbelly of bourgeois society (white-collar squares), in this dystopia, violence has risen to the surface as their defining privilege to act out the most barbarous of urges while the disadvantaged (those paradoxically less inclined towards sociopathic behavior) are left to hold up a genteel appearance. Violence is the master signifier here: corporate training consists of a variety of sadistic tests to see if the employee has what it takes to move up the latter. He or she has to think outside the (white) box to pass onto the next level (shitting on others who haven't made it as high). Understandably, no one wants to have children in such a world.   

into the abyss poster

Werner Herzog's new documentary is thoroughly described and critiqued by Lorrie Moore over at the NYRBlog, so I don't have much to add. Despite being ardently opposed to the death penalty himself, Herzog manages to portray the various lives involved in the execution of Michael Perry for the murder of three people in the Texas town of Cut and Shoot without polemics. It's expected of Herzog to make great documentaries, and Into the Abyss is no exception. What I enjoyed the most was the way his patented drollery complements what his subjects have to say. As he stated in the Q&A, he had no wish to condescend against Texans, and there are no narcissistic "gotcha" moments with which Michael Moore made his reptuation. Instead, Herzog understands the depressive redneck milieu, laughing at the more surreal stories rather than at the people doing the telling. These are people who've known little but violence, death and crime, so they tend to share the director's bleak view of life. 

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Afi Fest (10), Carré Blanc (3), Into The Abyss (1)