PERFECT MUTE FOREVER | Rosalind Nashashibi
By Will Bradley
Rosalind Nashashibi's Bachelor Machines Part I centers on the unspectacular activities of the Italian crew of the cargo ship Gran Bretagna as it travels from Italy to the Baltic Sea. Over the course of thirty minutes, the men go about their business--attending to ship activities, eating, smoking and playing cards, dancing (furtively) in the dining room. But this is not the stuff of "reality television"--the onboard community of men is not subjected to the sort of documentary-making that seeks to expose its subjects' private lives to an audience hoping for a prurient glimpse of a world they'll never know. Nor is life aboard ship aestheticized. There is a sense of respectful distance, a refusal of intimacy that belies the filmmaker's intimate access--a refusal underlined by the dialogue being in Italian, none of it subtitled and none of it important, really; or rather, not to the point.
Instead, Nashashibi's cinematically literate shot-making animates the ship and the literal machinery of global commerce--dockyard cranes, shipping containers--in a way that evokes both Dziga Vertov's constructivist celebration of the machine age and Jean-Luc Godard's dystopian reprocessing of Vertov in 1970s films such as British Sounds. One scene, in which two seamen repeatedly open and close an uncooperative door on deck, verges on silent comedy. In another, the setting sun heaves brilliantly into view through an open hatch, creating a textbook vision of the cinematic sublime--a vision so entirely part and parcel of the everyday experience of the crew that it passes entirely without acknowledgement.
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