Ganja & Hess ★★★★

Hooptober 7!!! -- 30/31

There are several scenes in which Ganja & Hess demonstrates the absolute power of good moviemaking. There's so much that can be appreciated about this artform but one thing in particular that pulls me to it is how films combine a variety of mediums all in one. There's (often) a sort of writing within the script, the use of music or other audio cues, acting (which is usually somewhat unlike theatrical styles but that's nonetheless a point of comparison), of course the visual side, and the list goes on. It's a melding of so many elements. And the more one learns about the art of film, the more an appreciation for editing grows. Every aspect of constructing a film is important, but so much can be done through how you choose to stitch together the disparate pieces. Even the greatest individual pieces can be made ineffective by poor presentation, though it can work in reverse, too.

The point I'm arriving at is that Ganja & Hess is more than the sum of its parts. That's not to say it's a bundle of substandard parts -- the acting is excellent, there are some interesting philosophical musings in the writing, and the music is fantastic. What I mean is that scenes really come together satisfyingly and powerfully. There are times when we watch a man drink a glass of bright fake blood and it is as if something profound and wondrous is occurring. Imagine the absurdity of the image on its own, without the surrounding context, without the music's contribution to the atmosphere, without our buy-in to this character. The perfect esoteric combination is achieved to add that extra spark of life. It's in those moments that we are witnessing the best that the medium has to offer.

This is a deeply weird movie and I have to concede that I don't think it always works. It takes the vampire concept and applies that to its own twist on slow, thoughtful arthouse. The narrative is ultimately more evocative of feelings and concepts than truly cohesive, which often works, but certainly has its moments where the monologues get a little too talky or the jumps a little too large and unexplained, risking it becoming temporarily plodding. There are plenty of drawn out scenes that outside of working as mood pieces, could be argued don't need to exist at all. The addiction metaphor is cool though I struggle to piece it all together. That could just as likely be on me as it is the film, but it is what it is. And it didn't hamper my enjoyment, but I must at least mention that the video and audio are not high quality, obviously through problems of budget rather than competence.

Yet despite all of that, it has a high hit rate, generating so many of those moments where I fell under its spell. These brief periods where I'm not really sitting down watching a movie anymore, I'm having a meaningful interaction with a piece of themselves that other people recorded and left for me. Many of them are sadly long gone, but for a moment I start to feel as if I understand them, a little bit. The recurring harsh buzzing and musical sting come up that represent the appearance of the hunger, and I understand the feeling of intrusive thoughts, without a single piece of narration about them. Even if it's not a perfect movie, it's so daring that it could only be great or terrible. I choose the former.

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