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Junun (2015); Eight Hours Left to Watch It!

November 7, 2015

1401x788-junun1500_new-744x600-1Last month Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood announced that he would be making an album with Shye Ben Tzur and the Rajasthan Express. Us Radiohead fans cheered to the high heavens that new music from the prolific Radiohead camp was on the way. Some of us Radiohead fans also double as film purists, so we nearly lost our breaths when the revelation hit that Paul Thomas Anderson would be once again collaborating with Greenwood and serving as documentarian to the project. In a span of 54 minutes, Anderson captures magic in the making of the group’s soon to be released LP, Junun.

Anderson’s style within Junun isn’t flshy or grandiose as we have grown accustomed to knowing it. Instead, Anderson further reminds viewers of his immutable talent behind the camera. Simplicity is the theme of Junun seen through Anderson’s direction that mirrors the attitude of the men and women recording the album. Despite India playing a large role as the backdrop of the film, everything moves with a placid patience. There is no drama to be had, no rushing to get done. We see the group play, practice, then run errands on the streets of India. Even when the country’s notoriously unreliable electricity blows rendering recording futile, the men just lie patiently and wait it out.

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The music created for this album is simply phenomenal. Anderson pays close attention to each musician in the near 20 person arragment. No one outshines another and everyone plays an intricate role in bringing together the enchanting, beautiful sound that their individual performances create. We get shown how the breathtaking, elaborate high-walled building the group records and practices in becomes a prominent feature highlighting the sound due to the deep acoustics the high ceilings produce. During one scene, a pigeon lands in the ceiling and begins cooing loudly, its voice echoing out along with the band. Junun is laden with scenes that feature the distinctive instruments within the band. Through compilations we witness exotic, dance-inducing instruments getting played, repaired, and tinkered with; harmoniums, mini-keyboards, French horns, trumpets, sitars, electronics, scholars, and so much more. We get tight close-ups on instruments and rotating pans that circle around the room to capture the totality of the recording process. This intimacy brings an important focus to the performing aspect of the music and the grand variety of sounds that allow all corners of the world to sonically meet despite the geographic location of the film.

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Anderson doesn’t need to do anything fancy or out of the ordinary in the way of directing, but his visuals bring a captivating component to Junun. Anderson simply witnesses the magic unfolding all on its own. Candid moments of the group members replace the standard documentary trope of using interviews. These scenes intermingle alongside the recording process allowing the powerful music getting produced to serve as the primary focus, and what beautiful music it is! Junun is about the passion of music, we see it in the musicians who play and if you are a music devotee you will feel it when watching. It may be hard to contain yourself from dancing when watching Junun, so don’t. Dance, wiggle, and move as you like, it’ll make the experience of watching Junun that much more enjoyable.

 

SEE IT. Right now, https://mubi.com/films/junun. Sign-up with MUBI for a 30-day free trail. But quick, there’s only 8 hours left before Junun expires! This is where following me comes in handy 😉

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