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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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FFS, a pig and chicken paean from Victor Kossakovsky, or GUNDA With the Wind?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Ever watch a movie and get an allergic reaction? Okay that’s heavy on light sarcasm, but “visionary” Russian director Victor Kossakovsky’s GUNDA could give some cinephiles hives when NEON releases it on Dec. 11. While director-turned-film critic Paul Thomas Anderson dubs GUNDA “more like a potion than like a movie,” it is basically farm yard chic all the same. Imagine roosters strutting about like koi-speckled dandies in a delicate scratch dance. That’s the level of florid digital vocabulary we are dealing with on screen in GUNDA. Heightened sow and pig with suckling depicted in the opening scenes is from the “Cahiérs du Cinema” intellectual’s POV, not from a shoe-leather perspective.

Then there’s the much-touted Joaquin Phoenix of JOKER fame as executive producer; and, naturally, the film is shot in the luxe elegant glam of black and white.


It’s as if the audience awaits André Bazin to weigh in on the scroll at some point to contextualize this barn-themed decadence. Maybe that is a little over the top, but when a film is explicitly billed as: “Experiential cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy,” critics get to have a little fun poking holes in the egotism on display.


In fact, the whole lush pictorial calls to mind an American cartoonist, famous for barnyard captions, one of which reads? “Farmer Brown is going to kill and eat every one of us except the dog!”

You Smell Me: Does This Feel Like BS or High Art?

Perhaps the so-called masterful intimacy of this high-minded lovely piece of vegan propaganda is indeed compelling enough to switch audiences to Beyond Meat, and that is a worthwhile goal. But in the times in which we currently live, where lockdowns and lack of freedoms have human beings herded like cattle in a Trader Joe’s line? GUNDA may fall on its face for some on the way to greatness in Award Season for others. While the man Kossakovsky is no Tarkovsky, he may be what the Remake Universe in Hollywood  needs for a blood transfusion in the creative department. Either way, it's from Russia with love for animals.

Official Pretentious Blurb - Experiential cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm's ambient soundtrack, director Victor Kossakovsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an other worldly perspective. GUNDA asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it.


Directed by Victor Kossakovsky

Produced by Anita Rehoff Larsen

Co-Produced by Joslyn Barnes, Susan Rockefeller

Executive Produced by Joaquin Phoenix, Tone Grøttjord-Glenne


Go forth and crusade against the Baconator from Wendy's, in other words.


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About Quendrith Johnson

Johnson Quendrith

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