Green Thoughts


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Green Thoughts
"There are compositions audible and painterly, moments of juxtaposition and superposition, frames that perhaps deserve frames."

With diversions through the materiality of film, from sprockets to grain, and the mechanisms of language other than film, Green Thoughts has both. There are moments of overlapping, not just exposures of frame but sense. The rubbing of bark is a rushing of breath, a sylvan sylph-like sensuality. In smear and haze of focus, hair and field both are moved by the wind.

There are intonations linguistic. The flowers named in Japanese: Himawari, sunflower; Azami, thistle. Here something where the head is drawn towards the light but there is a prickliness, something hard to grasp.

Some of that might be medium. For sure, when I saw it in the online 2021 Glasgow Short Film Festival the wind howling across the bricked up chimney of my creaking flat added depth to the susurrus of grass. Yet even on my big TV or a laptop too close to my face for comfort there is a compromise to vision artistic. There is a lot here of the dreamy, a happening "somewhere in the world". There is homage and quotation, "it was not death, for I stoop up." Emily Dickinson and Wong Kar-Wai. I caught within the credits a reference to Le Reve but I don't know or recall which. It might itself have been a haze of oneiric pareidolia, bibliography as cinematography.

A first film for William Hong-xiao Wei it was selected for special mention by the jury for the Scottish Award. They said it was "amazing" and "that [they] definitely can’t wait to see on the big screen." I do feel perhaps that it suffered from the context of my couch. It did create a mood, but between its stills and flashes could not perhaps sustain it in competition with a more cluttered environment. The destination and circumstance of much meditation is peace, and my tempest-tossed tenement did not afford it the piece of quiet it perhaps deserved.

Programmed among the Scottish competition at GSFF it in truth might have found a more natural home in Edinburgh's Black Box Shorts strand. There, certainly, amongst the openly experimental and no small number of other alums of Edinburgh's College of Art it might more have had the footing I felt it lacked.

With five credits for sound and music, beyond those references, it is an ensemble effort. When special mention was made Wei talked about other visual work, postcards, film, and magazines. Thanking the festival for their support he mentioned the sense of the visual and its "dominant role in creation and film-making". Read across its multiple languages and sources, there is a datelessness to it, a reverie. There are compositions audible and painterly, moments of juxtaposition and superposition, frames that perhaps deserve frames.

An interaction of light and sound that transports, though its destination is uncertain. I was minded, and not just by the title, of Chomsky's example of something both correct and without meaning. Colourless green ideas sleep furiously. Here it might be well to leave them lying. Though with something undoubtedly both poetic and taxing, it might be better not to leave the meter running.

Reviewed on: 05 Apr 2021
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Green Thoughts packshot
Somewhere in the world there is a remote island. The sea. Lush hills. The impenetrable forest.

Director: William Hong-xiao Wei

Year: 2020

Runtime: 29 minutes

Country: UK, China


GSFF 2021

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