Wednesday, April 11, 2007

THE MONASTERY

"Always expect the unexpected. Adapt that as a rule," advises 86-year-old Vig, the retired priest and university librarian who, in his truly catholic religious affiliations appoints his castle with Zen Buddhas, Tibetan tankas, crucifixs (he refers to Christ as a “chap”), Russian ikon paintings––gifts from Sister Ambrosija, and even his antique Chinese opium bed––which promises its own form of nirvana. A few days ago (see April 8 post), I mentioned that this unexpectedly beautiful and touching Danish documentary came very highly recommended from friends, whose sensibilities mirror my own. Their only lapse was not insisting that I see THE MONASTERY at the very next showing. Well, I just finished watching a screener and fully expect the film to be a triumph of this year’s Festival. Imagine the contemplative quality of last year’s INTO GREAT SILENCE (now in theatrical release), but with humor and deep emotion in place of a cerebral remove. Sensitively filmed––with stunning cinematography that discerns both a fairytale and "dust-to-dust, ashes-to-ashes” awareness, and a penetrating soundtrack, Pernille Rose Grønkjær’s directing skills transcend her youth and belie the fact that this is her first feature documentary.

Speaking about his motive for creating a monastery, Vig reasons, “theologists can’t help being interested in monasteries,” and admits that it’s an old ambition to create something enduring. When the filmmaker says she doesn’t understand, the elder eloquently asks, “Wouldn’t you like to make a film that went down in history…to make something of quality?” Her response is THE MONASTERY.

Thurs. May 3 4:30 Kabuki
Fri. May 4 7:00 Kabuki
Sun. May 6 1:00 Kabuki

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