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Friday, April 3, 2015
Some thoughts on Blue Notes by Bill Mousoulis, Australia: 2006
Blue Notes is the fourth film by Bill
Mousoulis I have seen so far. To describe the strange fascination
which some of his films evoke in me, let me use this image: They are
like an imagined long walk with him through a city and its people. At
the beginning the people and locations are strange to me but when the
walk is over I am full of stories and familiar faces.
Blue Notes is both, a compilation of
five different stories which interact with each other – sometimes
more, sometimes less – but it is also like a documentary on how a
narrative film comes to existence out of moments, observations and
the visible matter of the world. There are two opposed movements in
this film: To use an example from physics it is how the matter is
formed to parts of the world which can be named and how parts of the
world disintegrate itself to nameless matter.
The five stories deal mostly with
couples and individuals who either try to get their life in order or
people whose lives goe apart. There is for example a drug addicted
young man who is indecisive if he shall go on to subdue his addiction or
writing a song or playing in a band. Another person, a young woman
is violently abused by her boyfriend and the life she installed for
herself goes apart in an instant. There is also a Greek immigrant
called Kosta who is working as a watchman in an underground parking and who is almost a prisoner of his loneliness and nostalgia for his
native country which is in unreachable distance from Australia.
Kosta, joins a Greek choir which interprets old Greek songs. For now
it the only home he can get. This episode exists as well as a
separate short film (Kosta).
The stories in this film seem have literally
grown from the formed matter we see, the locations, the different
apartments, streets and people. Moments of every day actions turn
sometimes into very intense scenes. These traces of individual drama
become for a moment shining cinematic moments and soon these traces
will disintegrate itself.
Another of these five stories is about
a middle aged married couple. Like in a film by Ozu we see several
variations of one and the same every day ritual. The man comes home
from work, welcomed by his wife and his two dogs. The wife is
preparing in the kitchen the dinner. He greets her and pours a drink
for her and himself than he sits down on a sofa and reads a book or
the new paper and some moments later his wife joins him. There are
three or four variations of this ritual in the film. But from
variation to variation it reveals more and more despair. While
waiting for her husband, the wife discovers a book on depression her
husband is just reading.
On another evening, the woman is waiting
again for her husband´s homecoming. He is late, she gets anxious and
finally leaves the house. She finds her husband dead in his car. This tragic moment hit me totally unprepared and reminds me in
Ozus last film Samma No Aji. Just alone this moment makes Blue Notes
unforgettable for me.
The wonderful episode with the Greek
immigrant seems to be like a contrast to the other episode full of
despair. As he is introduced as a hopeless lonely man stranded in
Australia he at least makes a huge step out of his isolation when he
joins the Greek Choir. There is this wonderful moment when he
practices the Greek songs in his small apartment and when his face
reveals slight traces of happiness.
Blue Notes is a realistic view on
people living in a big city but at the same time it is full of
playfulness in its formalistic and narrative approach. Bill
Mousoulis´ view on these people is discreet but full of affection
The use of music in Blue Notes is
another evidence for the films´s versatility. Melodies played on
acoustic guitars or hard Rock rhythms. Sometimes the music is just
part of the soundtrack and sometimes we see music just performed by a
singer or a band – and sometimes we listen and watch musicians
during rehearsals. The music is an echo of the film´s approach. As I was in the
segment of the middle aged couple or the wonderful one about Kosta
nearly absorbed, there are other moments where I had rather the
feeling to be a witness of the creative process of film making. In
this sense, Blue Notes offers both; a fascinating and
inspiring vision of cinema but as well an idea where this fascination
is actually originated from. Blue Notes is poetic and analytic at the
Rüdiger Tomczak This and many other films by Bill Mousoulis on DVD can be purchased here.