Wednesday, October 11, 2023

EUREKA @ NYFF *UPDATED*



Do not enter Lisandro Alonso’s Eureka with any expectations. If you’ve watched a trailer or read a review – forget anything you think you’re about to see. Don’t even watch the trailer or the handful of clips that are available online. It’s best to go in to Eureka with a clean slate. As a matter of fact – don’t even read this review any further until you’ve seen it. This is an intentionally deceptive movie that starts out as a playful mockery of Alonso’s last feature (Jauja) then quickly morphs in to a story about a modern-day Native American community in South Dakota.

Eureka isn’t exactly a movie you can spoil (outside of the first 15-20 minutes), but it’s best to compare it to other films within the same lane rather than “review” it. Imagine a spiritual sequel to Jauja (right down to Viggo Mortensen playing another father character looking for his missing daughter) that quickly switches over to an Uncle Boonmee/Tropical Malady/Blissfully Yours-like spiritual tale with pinches of Jarmusch’s Dead Man. I’m sure folks might even be reminded of Carlos Reygadas and/or Amat Escalante.

Eureka was shot by Aki Kaurismaki cinematographer Timo Salminen (the second collaboration between Alonso & Salminen) who's visual style can be seen all over the film...

Timo is one of the best, and he had championed my work, so I asked to collaborate with him. His visual style is another form of narration, if you want to call it that - Lisando Alonso, Film Comment
Ariel / Eureka


Eureka also has some strong visual similarities to filmmakers that Alonso has name-dropped over the years as influences or sources of inspiration...

Similar opening scenes: 
Dead Man /
Eureka

 
Blissfully Yours / Eureka

Blissfully Yours / 
Eureka


Eureka is best enjoyed if you’ve seen Alonso’s previous feature; Jauja. I’m not usually a fan of director’s using their art to take shots at critics or to look directly in to the camera to wink at their fans, but this is an exception because it’s done so masterfully (I’m not sure when this will be released so you have time to check out Jauja before Eureka comes out if you haven’t yet in order to get the full experience).

Now…this movie is almost 2-1/2 hours long. Lisandro Alonso doesn’t use the entire feature to troll critics and wink at his fans. After getting all the naughty prankster stuff out of his system in the first section, the remainder of the film is as genuine as possible thanks to the dry comedic delivery of the wonderful non-professional cast (using non-professional actors can feel exploitive sometimes but that isn't the case here).

If it isn’t clear – I love this movie very much but I wouldn’t blindly recommend it to anyone unless you’re a fan of the director’s previous work and all the other cinematic reference points I namedropped earlier. I’m sure Lisandro Alonso wants as many people as possible to watch Eureka (this would be a hell of a movie to go in to blindly), but there is a core audience this was intended for. As an unofficial spokesperson for said audience – I can say this delivers and then some.

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