Songs from the Second Floor
SPOILERS has stayed with me more than any of the other films in my runner-up category. I can close my eyes and call up many of the rich images presented in the various tableaus. I think it is a more powerful piece of cinema than I gave it credit for, perhaps because it is not a traditional narrative, but like Tsai Ming-liang's Dong/The Hole
, it is an apt summation of millenial anxiety, in a city-state run by an ineffectual religious and military elite (who resort, out of desperation, to sacrificing a little girl, but who are proved largely ineffectual; their leader is reduced to a state of living death, caged and helpless, while, perhaps out of guilt the elite get drunk and vomit on one another), where the business elite are either fleeing the city all-together, or flagellating themselves in some kind of stockmarket drived penance (there collective, slow march through two scenes of the film, are perhaps among the funniest images in a frequently funny movie, but also sad, like the other example of the humor that runs through the film, all of which are predicated on the utter breakdown of human emotions, especially empathy, reason, and communication. Much of the dead-pan humor is driven by periods of awkward silence or incongruities; it is absurd, bleak, mordantly black humor, xerxes would hate it, which is almost enough of a recommendation for me), a traffic jam that seems endless and lead nowhere. All of this adds up to a state of limbo, and it is no surprise to me that the dead have risen to walk among us, reminding of us of our guilt and our helplessness (the final scene in the fields outside of the city, where the main character meets his salesmen friend who is discarding all the cruxifices he though he could sell; the dead walking in from the background, and then the sudden appearance of hundreds of the dead in the fields surrounding him). Given the chalky white countenances of the both the living, which is similar to that of the walking dead, I toyed with the idea that all of those characters were dead, perhaps figuratively, perhaps literally, but only some of them knew it.