In Spring One Plants Alone | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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In Spring One Plants Alone


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While making In Spring One Plants Alone (1980), a kind of personal documentary about a Maori mother and her adult son in a rural New Zealand community, filmmaker Vincent Ward lived with his subjects for 18 months, and the resulting film effectively captures the lugubrious rhythms of the family's life. The son is apparently wholly dependent on his mother--we see her bathe him and then bring him for a haircut--and he seems to spend much of his time doing nothing. A close-up of his fingers drumming serves as an apt metaphor for his life. Ward's careful and controlled use of techniques that in another work might seem like mistakes--soft-focus shots or shots of empty spaces in the home--powerfully evokes two utterly off-center lives. Through dark, almost poetically claustrophobic imagery and close-ups of obsessive intensity a portrait emerges of two people trapped in time, both still acting as if the man were a boy. Also on the program are films by Josef Reeve, Scott Trotter, Gregg Biermann, Mike Hoolboom, and Kika Thorne. International Cinema Museum, 319 W. Erie, Wednesday, May 31, 8:00, 654-1426.

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