Luis Martínez Berlin


Updated Tuesday, February 20, 2024-08:26

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right at the end - and he says it with a sign so that there are no doubts - that after water, the most common material on planet Earth is concrete. The phrase is not pronounced, to understand us, by a


who loves huge books with excessive black and white photos of brutalist buildings.

The phrase is by Victor Kossakovsky.

Which means that in his supposed asepsis he really wants to be manifest. It already happened in a previous documentary


(2018) dedicated entirely to, precisely, water. The hypnotic images of what flows ended up being revolutionary in the simplest vindication of what is common, what belongs to everyone, what makes us alive. Now, since thanatos is the reverse of eros, what is pointed out is the death impulse into which we seem to throw ourselves headlong from time to time. But he indicates it without stridency, always attentive to what matters, which is nothing more than life. In front of the water, the cement.


is a documentary that, in truth, is a cantata. Solemn, vigorous, somewhat gloomy and always resplendent. The camera navigates weightlessly through four scenarios.

All different and all united in the same fate with the aspect of condemnation.

The impressive ruins of the Roman temple of Baalbek in Lebanon, the consequences of the earthquake in Turkey from a mourning bird's eye view, a huge stone quarry as the most terrible offering of progress and the construction of a tiny stone circle by the architect Italian Michele de Lucchi. Those are the spaces of a tragic and somnambulant poem; deeply beautiful and desolate.

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As is now the norm in his work, the director of


(the film dedicated to the life of a pig) leaves the narrative in the hands of what could be defined as an inner vibration. Or earlier, because of what is ancestral and mythological. Only a few precise indications are allowed at the end in the form of an epilogue. And that is where we learn from the Italian architect that, of all construction materials,

concrete "is the only sterile"

since it does not allow anything to grow in its cracks nor is it incorporated into the landscape as a ruin.

It's just destruction and garbage.

And that is where, to no one's surprise, we discovered that cement can do anything. Until we get here, the stones resound in the chest, the rain penetrates to the bones and the effort in the most absolute solitude of the man who cares for Baalbek is touching and, importantly, gives hope.

The result is not exactly a film - which is also very exciting - but rather a warning that dazzles as much as it hurts.

We drown and it is not because of the water, but because of the concrete and, it must be said, the books dedicated to brutalism.

Who would have imagined it.

Hong Sangsoo and Isabelle Huppert, again

For the rest, the official section was completed with a new minimal work between the minimum of minimalism by

Hong Sang-soo

and a new journey into the depths of the family and its accidents signed by

Claire Burger.

As in

'Claire's Camera

' (2017), the Korean director and the French actress meet again in


A traveller's needs


and they do it the way they like:

astonished at each other .

Let's say that the film does not have the light and at the same time deep gravity of the best of the irrepressible Sang-soo. Far from the brilliant metanarrative games that he likes so much and that we like so much, and far from that twilight languor that hurts so much, now everything is resolved in a game, in a confusion, in a translation error.

Brilliant, but so tiny that it borders on non-existence.

Actress Isabelle Huppert and director Hong Sang-sooCLEMENS BILANEFE

Huppert plays a French teacher who drinks


(a white, alcoholic drink that we haven't tried). And she drinks a lot, or a lot, better than she gives her disastrous classes. From student to student, she repeats rituals, fills out the same useless cardboard and drinks, drinks a lot. And so the day passes between drowsiness, misunderstandings and walks.

It sounds light and, in truth, gives a new significance to her own lightness.

It is enjoyed with the same ease as one forgets one of those dreams that we do not understand why we have forgotten. We're already looking forward to Sang-soo's next one.

'Langue étrangère

' (Foreign Language), by Claire Burger, is something else. To begin with,

everything here, or almost, is of a seriousness that is frightening.

What if adolescence, what if the discovery of first love, what if Europe, what if the necessary social revolution, what if bullying, what if family, what if lying, what if forgiveness.

The menu is so extensive that it could fit even the concrete above.

The director of the marvel that was

'A Thousand Nights and a Wedding'

(signed together with Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq and Samuel Theis) tempers the gesture to compose a drama of young people in crisis and generations not necessarily lost as warm and emotional as, let's admit it, routine and somewhat tricky. The film tells of a student exchange between a German and a French woman. What is first resentment will later be love. But that, as they told us in '


', costs and you have to pay for it before learning it. It is misunderstood that a film that has everything to occupy a brilliant position in the Kplus section lands in the official section in such a forcedly discreet, so frosty, so reinforced concrete way.