The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Visages villages
Happy End
A Ghost Story
Battle of the Sexes
A passage through the time in-between

The Great Northwest

United States, 2012 | Matt McCormick
Firat Yücel checked in form Zaragoza to the see the world premiere of the American documentary The Great Northwest.

Four single thirtysomething women taking a road trip back in 1958 across 3300 miles in the USA... When I first read about the story that The Great Northwest is based upon, I expected a documentary that would elaborate on the idea of unmarried women deciding to take a long journey, being able to leave their lives, their homes behind and head through the unknowns of the American country. I expected some sort of a visual journal that would document the essence of travelling; a sense of liberty, nonconformism and momentum. And also — as opposed to all the machist or reversed-machist approaches to the idea of road trip, merely being a narrative tool for telling the glorious consumptions of the homo economicus (conquering lifestyles, identities, women, men, night clubs and even values about how life should be lived) — I was dreaming about a more sensual, immoral and abstract road trip. A visual document from the past that would bypass the usual treatment of journey (simply, a tale of how identities are shaped or the possibility of escaping identities), that for the time being we are so much accustomed to.

The documentary, or rather call it the art project of Matt McCormick is nothing like that. But then again, in a strange way, it is. The Great Northwest is not the story of these four women, but it is the story of the Northwest, as the title suggests. McCormick finds a scrapbook in a thrift store, dating and documenting a road trip in 1958, and takes a journey across the land that the women have left their footprints on. But neither is it the story of McCormick's attempt to retrace their journey, as it would have been in a first-person narrated documentary. In fact the voice of the first-person narrator here (whether it's McCormick or an imaginary teller) is shut down almost totally. We only grasp McCormick's view of things and places, through the notes he puts over the landscapes, and those too are not personal at all; they tell about the way the land has been transformed through the years. What stayed the same, what has changed, this is what this film is all about: It is built upon the idea of 'passage', not upon the idea of looking through the past with today's perspective. Maybe that's the reason why McCormick avoids any personal comments, cause that would have automatically positioned the visual material into 'a past' seen from today's moral and social codes. Whereas here, the main motivation is to look at the present from the past, not vice versa: Along his journey the director, puts the original photographs, taken in the fifties, in front of the camera, and then removes them from the view, which leaves us with the way the things are today. To put it in other words: What we are experiencing here through the images is not remembering the past; it's more like remembering the present.

Watching McCormick's experiment, I realize something about how memory works through images: Documentaries made about the past which are built upon remembering (showing photographs, archive footage etc.), somehow turn the time 'in between' into inevitability: What happened happened and we are here only for lamentation. There could have been no other way for what happened, cause the reality of present is standing still and concrete; it absorbs all the possibilities for the time 'in between'. In a way that's also what The Great Northwest makes you feel like, since McCormick is cruising in the present but there's a slight difference to it: When he removes the old photographs of places, buildings and landscapes from our view and leaves us with the concrete present, we grasp not only lamentation, but also a sense of how this present has been shaped into what it is today. This way of looking at the present in fact leaves you with much more imagination, since it makes you grasp the human agency behind all that has been done. It's not concerned about the past or the present; it's concerned about the time in between, the passage.

This was one of the few reasons why Wim Wenders' photographs of the American country came to my mind when watching the movie. It is not only that they are both interested in highways, diners, gas stations, domestic tourism and the vastness of the American country, but there's a certain feeling that connects them: The images have a kind of depth, that makes a parallel between the idea of being on the road and the concept of time. The highway and the time become inseparable in our minds. There's a strange silence that goes along with McCormick's moving images that makes you hear even the slightest wind, which adds to this feeling. In this serenity, the empty land and the architecture (the human made) start to mirror each other and you become able to imagine the land without what's built upon it. Which is also one of the best ways to avoid the feeling of inevitability of what happened in between.

The Great Northwest also leaves you with questions about filmic reality. Who knows if McCormick really found that scrapbook? Who knows if it is not only a made up story? And the real question: what would change if it were made up? In either case, this is the story of the land and how the American civilization utilizes that land. There wouldn't be any change in what we see in the film, if it was made up or true; the land is there, the time is there, the change is there. The story of the four women is meaningful because it gives McCormick the idea to do this experiment. The past is only meaningful when it whispers things, as a muse or just an idea. The truth that is captured through the windshield of McCormick's car is nevertheless the truth of the land and time, nothing else and nothing that could have been more.

Firat Yücel

The Great Northwest (Matt McCormick, USA 2012, 70')



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The Great Northwest

Februari 2012 #340

Slow Criticism 2012

Titelindex


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G

G-FORCE
G.I. JANE
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF THE COBRA
Gaamer
GABBEH
Gabrielle (Louise Archambault)
GABRIELLE (Patrice Chéreau)
GADJO DILO
Gaga: Five Foot Two
GAINSBOURG, VIE HÉROÏQUE
GALAXY QUEST
Gallipoli
The Gallows
Gallows Hill
Gambit
THE GAMBLER
Game
THE GAME
Game of Thrones (Seizoen 5)
Game of Thrones Seizoen 1
GAMER
Le gamin au vélo
GAMLE MAEND I NYE BILER/OLD MEN IN NEW CARS
GANGS OF NEW YORK
Gangs of Wasseypur
Gangster Squad
GANGSTERBOYS
Het gangstermeisje
GARAGE
GARAGE DAYS
GARAGE OLIMPO
Les garçons et Guillaume, à table!
THE GARDEN
GARDEN STATE
GARFIELD
GARFIELD: A TALE OF TWO KITTIES
GARPASTUM
GAS, FOOD, LODGING
Gasland part I & II
GASTON'S WAR
GATTACA
IL GATTOPARDO
GAY
GAZON MAUDIT
Les géants
GEEN BEREIK
GEEST UIT DE POLDER
GEGE
Gegen die Wand
HET GEHEIM
Het geheim van Delft
HET GEHEIM VAN MEGA MINDY
Gek van geluk
GELUK IS ALS GLAS
EEN GELUKKIGE HAND
DE GELUKKIGE HUISVROUW
EEN GELUKKIGE TIJD
GEMINI (SOSEIJI)
Gemma Bovery
The General
THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER
GENERATION KILL
LA GENÈSE
GENESIS
Genius
GENOVA
LES GENS NORMAUX N'ONT RIEN D'EXCEPTIONNEL
A Gentle Creature
GEORGE MICHAEL: A DIFFERENT STORY
GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE
Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye
GEORGI AND THE BUTTERFLIES
GEORGIA RULE
GEORGICA
Geostorm
Gerhard Richter Painting
GERMINAL
Geronimo
GERONIMO: AN AMERICAN LEGEND
GERRY
GESPENSTER
GET BACK
GET CARTER
The Get Down
Get Hard
GET HIM TO THE GREEK
GET LOW en de arthouse-western
GET ON THE BUS
Get Out
GET REAL
GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'
GET SHORTY
THE GETAWAY
Gett — The Divorce Trial of Viviane Amsalem
GETTING EVEN WITH DAD
GETTING HOME
GETTING MY BROTHER LAID (MEIN BRUDER DER VAMPIR)
GETTYSBURG
GEVANGEN OP JAVA
GEVANGENEN VAN DE GROND
DE GEVLEKTE HOND (A PIEBALD DOG RUNNING ON THE EDGE OF THE SEA)
De geweldige beer
GFP Bunny
THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS
GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI
GHOST IN THE SHELL (Mamoru Oshii)
Ghost in the shell (Rupert Sanders)
GHOST IN THE SHELL 2 (Mamoru Oshii)
GHOST RIDER
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 3D
GHOST SHIP
A Ghost Story
GHOST WORLD
THE GHOST WRITER
Ghostbusters
GHOSTS FROM THE PAST
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST
Gianni e le donne
The Gift (Joel Edgerton)
THE GIFT (Sam Raimi)
Gifted
GIGANTE
GIGLI
Gilbert
Gimme Danger — Long Live The Stooges
GIMME SHELTER
Ginger & Rosa
GINGER SNAPS
THE GINGERBREAD MAN
GIORNI E NUVOLE
The Girl
GIRL 6
Girl Most Likely
The Girl on the Train
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
GIRL, INTERRUPTED
GIRLFIGHT
THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE
Girlhood
Girls seizoen 1-5
Girls Trip
GIRLS UNITED
GLADIATOR (Ridley Scott)
GLADIATOR (Rowdy Herrington)
LES GLANEURS ET LA GLANEUSE
GLAS OP CELLULOID
The Glass Castle
Glassland
Glee the 3D Concert Movie
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS
THE GLIMMERMAN
GLITTERBUG
Gloria (Sebastián Lelio)
GLORIA (Sidney Lumet)
Glory
Gluckauf
GLUE
GNOMEO & JULIET
GO
GO GET SOME ROSEMARY
GO WEST, YOUNG MAN!
GOAL KICK OFF
God Bless America
GOD IS MY DJ
GOD TOLD ME TO
GOD'S LONELY MAN
THE GODDESS OF 1967
THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION
GODS AND MONSTERS
Gods of Egypt 3D
GODSEND
GODZILLA
Godzilla 3D
DAS GOEBBELS EXPERIMENT
De goede dood
GOHATTO
Going in Style
GOING THE DISTANCE
GOING TO SCHOOL WITH MY DAD ON MY BACK
Gold
GOLDEN BALLS
THE GOLDEN BOWL
THE GOLDEN COMPASS
GOLDENEYE
GOLDFISH MEMORY
Goltzius and the Pelican Company
GOLVEN
GOMORRA
GONE BABY GONE
Gone Girl
GONE IN 60 SECONDS
Gone With the Wind
GONIN
GOOD ADVICE
GOOD BYE, LENIN!
A Good Day To Die Hard
The Good Dinosaur
THE GOOD GERMAN
THE GOOD GIRL
THE GOOD HEART
Good Kill
A GOOD MAN IN AFRICA
GOOD MEN, GOOD WOMEN
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
Good People
GOOD ROCKIN' TONIGHT
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
THE GOOD SON
Good Time
GOOD WILL HUNTING
A GOOD WOMAN
A GOOD YEAR
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
GOODBOY!
GOODBYE BAFANA
GOODBYE LOVER
GOODBYE SOLO
GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE
A GOOFY MOVIE
GOOISCHE VROUWEN
Gooische Vrouwen 2
Goosebumps 3D
GORDEL VAN SMARAGD
GORDOS
GOSFORD PARK
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
GOSSIP
GOTHIKA
Die göttliche Ordnung
GOUD
DE GOUDEN SWIPE
DE GOUDLIJN PARAMARIBO — DAM
LE GOÛT DES AUTRES
GOUTTES D'EAU SUR PIERRES BRÛLANTES
GOYA'S GHOSTS
Gozaran — Time Passing
GRACE IS GONE
Grace of Monaco
GRACE OF MY HEART
LA GRAINE ET LE MULET
GRAN TORINO
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Le grand cahier
Grand central
Le grand soir
LE GRAND VOYAGE
La grande bellezza
IL GRANDE COCOMERO
GRANDE HOTEL
La grande illusion
Il grande sogno
The Grandmaster
GRAVE DANGER
THE GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
Gravity
GRBAVICA
GREASE
GREAT ECSTASY OF ROBERT CARMICHAEL
GREAT EXPECTATIONS (Alfonso Cuarón)
Great Expectations (Mike Newell)
The Great Gatsby
GREAT KILLS ROAD
GREAT MIGRATIONS
The Great Northwest
THE GREAT RAID
The Great Wall
THE GREAT WHITE HYPE
GREEN HAT
THE GREEN HORNET
The Green Inferno en Knock Knock (Eli Roth over)
Green Lantern 3D
THE GREEN MILE
Green Room
GREEN ZONE
GREENBERG
Greencard Warriors (Miriam Kruishoop over)
Greetings from Tim Buckley
The Grey
THE GREY ZONE
GRIDLOCK'D
DE GRIEZELBUS
GRIMM
Grimsby
THE GRINCH
GRINDHOUSE: DEATH PROOF
GRINDHOUSE: PLANET TERROR
GRIZZLY MAN
De groeten van Mike!
Gromozeka
HET GROOTSTE VAN HET GROOTSTE, ABRAHAM TUSCHINSKI
GROOVE
GROSSE POINTE BLANK
DE GROT
GROTE KLEINE MUIS: CIRKELIENTJE
DE GROTE TOVENAAR
DE GROTE VAKANTIE
De grote Zwaen
GROUNDHOG DAY
GROWN UPS
Grown Ups 2
THE GRUDGE
THE GRUDGE 2
Grudge Match
GRUMPIER OLD MEN
GRUMPY OLD MEN
GUANTANAMERA
The Guard
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
GUARDING TESS
GUERNSEY
Güeros
La Guerre est Déclarée
GUESS WHO
A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS
GUINEVERE
GULLIVER'S TRAVELS 3D
GUMMO
The Gunman
THE GUNS OF NAVARONE
THE GURU
GUS VAN SANT BOX
El Gusto