Archive for The Film to Come

Coming Soon

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on November 22, 2018 by dcairns


Raoul Ruiz was a busy man: always filming. His filmography, according to the IMDb, stands at 63 features (though one is completely posthumous) and 27 shorts. Ruiz claimed not to know the whereabouts of many of these films and, given his globetrotting career as a political exile from his native Chile for much of his life, this seems quite credible. The thing was to keep working. Most established professionals don’t bother with shorts because there’s no money in it (unless you’re Scorsese) but Ruiz, as noted, liked to keep occupied.
The plot of this 1997 entry concerns a tiny religious cult based around a fragment of film, known as LE FILM A VENIR: The Coming Film. The phrase echoes that used by French movie trailers, their equivalent of Coming Soon. And, as with THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, the film within the film shares its title with the film itself.
Ruiz, who had made a short film (DOG’S DIALOGUE, 1977) almost entirely out of still photographs, planned this one as a kind of live-action photostrip in which the actors don’t move but the props do. For whatever reason, in the finished work he does allow his cast to move from one pose to another, making the strangeness less overt. It creeps up on you.
A matter-of-fact voice-over weaves an odd plot-line through a series of inscrutable images, or maybe most are actually quite mundane shots and only the words are making them strange? The situation shifts back and forth, with some lovely, dreamlike tableaux amid other, more banal images, all co-opted into Ruiz’s haunting, absurd narrative. The story seems to click shut like a trap, while remaining elusive to the point of vaporousness. What happened? Did anything happen?
Ruiz deserves to be better known and this film seems like a useful set of training wheels: discover his playful surrealism in a bite-sized unit. If you don’t speak French, the autotranslate function can be used to make the film much harder to understand.
Thanks to Ruizdiaries for translating RR’s preparatory thoughts on this film.