The Pines of Spring (CRITIQUE REVIEW​)

The Pines of Spring is a vehicle for a series of poems by filmmaker Ann Huang which play out in a cycle loosely coinciding with the seasons of the year and stages of life. Nearly all of the poems seem to express a sense of loss or absence of comfort and follow a reoccurring idea about meaning, purpose, happiness being an artifice created by the individual. This is more of an undercurrent of loneliness there as a contrast to the sense of beauty and hope that she seems to be describing. To state the obvious, this film is far more concerned with the words which are being spoken than with the images. The images attempt to reinforce the tone set by the poetry in a number of ways; from literal representations of them, as when a character is seen digging with a shovel, to things which are more visual poetry themselves, as in a fleeting moment where a man kisses a woman before leaving her alone in the kitchen. There is a somewhat consistent alteration between differing functions of word and image as the two alternate to serve each other. The poetry adds drama to the mundane, and literal imagery places emphasis on words and meaning. This has mixed success throughout the film, as the natural inclination is to be drawn into actor movements or beautiful images, breaking up the continuity of the poetry as it can get pretty jumbled when the pacing of either is not conducive to it’s counterpart. Huang’s delivery at times gets too fast to grasp as it outruns the moments of drama holding the viewer in place. Overall, however, this is pretty successful and manages to keep the attention of a viewer willing to give it full engagement. The assembly of the poems is inspired, and the different ideas and colors of it have been woven together into a nice visual quilt. We start out in a dark movie theater with a poem that seems to describe poetry as something between an oasis for the spirit and a bright and shiny distraction that that gives pleasure but shouldn’t necessarily be trusted. This is accompanied by images that illustrate death and decay. As we move into the next poem, the scenes become increasingly colorful as the metaphor seems to extend itself to love and the absence of it. The main actress who moves between all of the different segments is seen in a number of different outfits and scenarios, from content in here home, to dressed up and following her personal whims through a museum, to waking up in her bed and in a moment of worry finding that her lover is gone. There is more to be appreciated in how the film is assembled if it is given multiple viewings, but it does create an involving experience, even with the current disruptive pacing. It manages to bring the viewer along with it, even with it’s speed bumps along the way.

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