Wednesday, November 22, 2023

New Strains

Making the Best of It / Social Distances

The best and funniest film made about COVID, Artemis Shaw and Prashanth Kamalakanthan's 2023 New Strains (double-entendre in full effect) depicts a visitation in a long-distance relationship between Kallia (Shaw) and Ram (Kamalakanthan) in the opening weeks of the pandemic, with the two holed up in a beautiful apartment belonging to Kallia's uncle.

At first DV was pushed to create images that were 'resolvable' — now, the format's usage is no longer that of a chase after high-resolution, but a complicated present-day matter of texture. 'The Past' as DV has become a subject and a phenomenon signified by the medium which screams it — we recall the contemporary footage of 9/11 here during the cruel succeeding happenstance of The Pandemic. This specific tale connotes, as with any good document, the general within and surrounding the specific.

In hindsight we observe the myths, rumors, falsehoods, and truths of the opening weeks of the COVID pandemic. Some were pure horseshit; others all too accurate. People overreacted, people experienced the illness exactly for what it was, people were compromised and died, including the mother of a friend of mine. I'm thinking today of the lyric from The Clash's "London Calling""You know what they said? / Well some of it was true!". All glues together in the preternatural expressivity of Shaw's face.

I'm posting this on the day before Thanksgiving. Among various reasons for my gratitude this year, I give thanks to Shaw and Kamalakanthan for their remarkable film.


Other Writing at Cinemasparagus on the Films of Shaw and/or Kamalakanthan

Have a Nice Life [2021]


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