Let's forget about narrative for now, shall we? Let's not focus on narrative, let's live in the moment. And let's consider a documentary focused on isolated pieces of time, how those pieces can be compiled into a portrait of life as it is lived around the world.
Michael Almereyda is no stranger to toying with film form. He set his version of Hamlet -- starring Ethan Hawke -- in the present day; in Happy Here and Now he melded virtual reality with noir trappings; and he's previously turned a documentary lens on such artists as Sam Shepard and William Eggleston. His latest documentary, the deceptively free-form Paradise, was shot over some ten years using a consumer-grade camcorder, and spans the globe and a pretty wide swath of human experience. There are moments here of surreal beauty (a group of firefighters at night are captured in long-shot, their flashlights stabbing eerily through the smoke), some at once elegiac and curious (children at play during a family pig roast), and others just of pure joy (a rock band performs at an impromptu, free concert). The accumulative effect is strange and beautiful, yet rooted firmly in an accessible reality. No beginnings, no ends, no real story arc here, but still an affecting -- dare I say, paradisiacal -- experience.
I got to talk to Almereyda about the challenge of patching together a decades-worth of recorded impressions, and how they came together to form his own song of innocence and experience. Click on the player below to hear the interview.
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