A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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VERTICAL RAY OF THE SUN
aka AT THE HEIGHT OF SUMMER
2000 - Tran Anh Hung - Vietnam / France
14

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The Vertical Ray of the Sun is the third film by Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Ang Hung. In just three films Tran has captured a similar vision of two of cinemas greatest masters (Robert Bresson and Yasujiro Ozu). Though little plot or even character details are revealed throughout most of this film, The Vertical Ray of the Sun stands as a flawless portrayal of art and by the time the film reaches its end the viewer is left blown away by the experience. Ultimately The Vertical Ray of the Sun is a poetic cinematic experience of feeling. The audience must participate and feel the emotions of the film through its imagery and sound. Rather then being told, we are shown, as it is a film of tone and mood. The images here are absolutely breathtaking to behold and when combined with the simplistic narrative the result is a mysterious yet beautiful film. The story focuses on three sisters (lead by Tran's gorgeous wife Nu Yen-Khe Tran, who has starred in all of his films) living separately in modern-day Vietnam. Within their lives Tran captures a beautiful display of images, colors (notably the various uses of greens!), and perhaps most importantly sounds (which are reminiscent of Bresson's mastery with sound). Quickly establishing the films key use of sounds we hear birds and an alarm clock buzzing as the opening image is a static shot of a man laying down on a bed. He rolls up and out of bed and awakes his sister sleeping in a nearby bed (the beautiful Velvet Underground song 'Pale Blue Eyes' is playing in the background). The film concludes with an elegant moment of beauty (captured by a lovely closing song). The Vertical Ray of the Sun is poetic art through cinematic images and sound, which is so affecting you can actually feel the film as if it is physically touching you.
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