Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Hackers Now Reportedly Say Sony Can Release 'The Interview,' But With Changes Hackers Now Reportedly Say Sony Can Release 'The Interview,' But With Changes George Clooney Pushes For VOD Release Of 'The Interview,' Calls Out Hollywood For Lack Of Courage George Clooney Pushes For VOD Release Of 'The Interview,' Calls Out Hollywood For Lack Of Courage Watch: Sony Releases "In Franco And Rogen We Trust" Promo For 'The Interview' Watch: Sony Releases "In Franco And Rogen We Trust" Promo For 'The Interview' Watch: The Style Of Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Terrence Malick & More Recreated With Stock Footage Watch: The Style Of Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Terrence Malick & More Recreated With Stock Footage Surprising Full Cast Revealed For Jason Reitman's Live Read Of 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back' Surprising Full Cast Revealed For Jason Reitman's Live Read Of 'Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back' Sony Officially Yanks 'The Interview' From Release Following Hacker Threats Sony Officially Yanks 'The Interview' From Release Following Hacker Threats The 21 Best Performances Of 2014 The 21 Best Performances Of 2014 The 12 Best Shots Of 2014 The 12 Best Shots Of 2014 Baffling First Official Synopsis For Terrence Malick's 'Knight Of Cups' Unveiled Baffling First Official Synopsis For Terrence Malick's 'Knight Of Cups' Unveiled Rumor: 'Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Will Address Fan Complaints From 'Man Of Steel' Rumor: 'Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Will Address Fan Complaints From 'Man Of Steel' Watch: Christian Bale Goes On A Hedonistic Journey In First Trailer For Terrence Malick's 'Knight Of Cups' Watch: Christian Bale Goes On A Hedonistic Journey In First Trailer For Terrence Malick's 'Knight Of Cups' The 20 Best Movie Posters Of 2014 The 20 Best Movie Posters Of 2014 Recap: 'The Newsroom' Series Finale, Season 3, Episode 6 'What Kind Of Day Has It Been' Recap: 'The Newsroom' Series Finale, Season 3, Episode 6 'What Kind Of Day Has It Been' More Leaks Reveal Reported Plans Around ‘Star Wars’ Episodes 8 & 9 More Leaks Reveal Reported Plans Around ‘Star Wars’ Episodes 8 & 9 Sony Leaks Reveal ‘Aquaman’ Director, ‘X-Men’/’Fantastic Four’ Crossover Plans & More Sony Leaks Reveal ‘Aquaman’ Director, ‘X-Men’/’Fantastic Four’ Crossover Plans & More Review: Assassination Comedy ‘The Interview’ Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, And Lizzy Caplan Review: Assassination Comedy ‘The Interview’ Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, And Lizzy Caplan The 20 Best Films Of 2014 The 20 Best Films Of 2014 Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

NYFF Review: 'Memories Look At Me' A Comforting, Modest Micro Indie

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist October 5, 2012 at 3:01PM

Song Fang's "Memories Look At Me" is a tough one: while the filmmaker's debut is a lovely, pleasant experience, it's extremely difficult to make the movie sound at all appealing. A large percentage of it takes place in a single apartment, with each dialogue-heavy scene generally composed of a single static shot; the camera with a view of either someone's side or back, but rarely their front. There's no plot, arcs, narrative thrust, or anything of the kind. Party poopers will quickly decry that "nothing happens" and, honestly, they wouldn't be wrong. But mysteriously, the intensely slice-of-life 'Memories' works, and its comforting nature and attention to real moments make for an especially soothing experience.
0

Memories Look At Me
Song Fang's "Memories Look At Me" is a tough one: while the filmmaker's debut is a lovely, pleasant experience, it's extremely difficult to make the movie sound at all appealing. A large percentage of it takes place in a single apartment, with each dialogue-heavy scene generally composed of a single static shot; the camera with a view of either someone's side or back, but rarely their front. There's no plot, arcs, narrative thrust, or anything of the kind. Party poopers will quickly decry that "nothing happens" and, honestly, they wouldn't be wrong. But mysteriously, the intensely slice-of-life 'Memories' works, and its comforting nature and attention to real moments make for an especially soothing experience.

Memories Look At Me

With a role in the remarkable "Flight of the Red Balloon" by auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Song is no stranger to acting and here takes the spotlight as the lead. The movie opens with a pensive stare out of the window of a locomotive, the train en route to her parents’ house -- through this look, we get the vague feeling that something rather serious has happened in her life and she’s returning to the comfort of home. As soon as she arrives the film settles, the director throwing an anchor and reveling in the security of the uneventful existence her parents live in: Song chitchats with her middle-aged parents, cleaning their ears and plucking superfluous hairs while a variety of other relatives (grandma, brother, niece) add their particular flavor to the household. It’s hard to say how much time exactly passes in the film, as aside from a brief voyage to a close friend’s abode (complete with a tour of the town with details as to how the locale has evolved, for better or worse), most of the days blend into each other seamlessly.

Despite the mundane conversations about things like the blooming chili plants on a nearby windowsill, the contentment is infectious. It’s easy to get lost in the movie, even easier to tune out -- and again, that shouldn’t be read as a slander against ‘Memories’ as the movie goes above and beyond in conveying the feeling of pleasant family life. Song avoids any sort of major drama, which is most impressive because the nature of her visit is so mysterious -- surely she has something she’s running away from or means to talk about, but she never unleashes it upon anyone (read: there are no histrionic breakdown scenes).

Memories Look At Me

Still, the director has an interesting way of hinting at the protagonist’s mental state in the midst of the home-sweet-home peace. In terms of camera aesthetics, the cinematography is serviceable, but Song veers away from making the small apartment feel at all cramped -- instead, the filmmaker uses the soundtrack to give some contrast to the great warmth found in each conversation. Nearly every scene is accompanied by wild noise from outside the building -- heavy traffic, children screaming and the like -- which is buried in the background but noticeable enough to add a subtle layer of dissimilitude to the film. It’s not overpowering, but it seems to hint that something inescapable is troubling the lead. This stylistic choice begets a nagging feeling, but never frustrating -- considering the otherwise affable atmosphere in the domicile, we can’t blame her for staying mute about her personal problems. The director seems to be questioning her character’s behavior in this way, wondering if burying unspoken feelings with nostalgia and quality time with loved ones (or just running away from them) will actually absolve any deep-down dilemmas.

It’s a simple and not exactly profound film (though the closing shot has a perplexing amount of strength to it), but you’d be hard-pressed to find another movie so legitimately solacing without being a guilty pleasure at the same time. A tiny micro-indie with small aims but great intention, “Memories Look At Me” is a cozy experience and an assured entrance by Song Fang as a director. [B]

This article is related to: Memories Look At Me, Fang Song, Review, New York Film Festival


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates