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Cate Blanchett in "Manifesto."
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Red Dirt Reporter Kevin Tudor is at the Tribeca Film Festival. This is his first piece out of New York.

NEW YORK – Lars Von Trier is one of the many film directors’ names that flash on screen in Manifesto’s opening sequence. Von Trier was one of the originators of a film style developed in 1995 called Dogme 95. It had a set of rules for any film to adhere to to be apart of the movement (ex. On location shooting, 35mm film only, no directory credit). Most films landed on their face as far as being enjoyable, but the ambition behind it was mesmerizing that some filmmakers were doing something original in indie film at the time.

Writer/director Julian Rosefeldt spends about a minute of screen time flashing various names of importance revolving the world of art before proclaiming that “all current art is fake.” Assumedly, he is trying to throw his hat into the ring of all of these other fellow auteurs.

Manifesto wishes it was as inspirational and confrontational as it believes it is. It does nothing besides be big-headed and judgmental. It’s as original as it is putrid garbage.

Originally released as an art exhibition in 2015, it was cut into a linear form and premiered at Sundance 2017. Cate Blanchett plays 13 characters that serve as vessels for Julian Rosefeldt to spew excrement about failing art, neo-art, living art, and any other type of art imaginable. “Art” is said no less than a few hundreds of time during the film, just in case anyone forgot it was about art.

Blanchett roles go from a loud-mouthed punk goddess, a muttering homeless man and a clean-cut stock broker. Class level, nationality and gender have no basis in her performances as she empties the tank in every short performance. I've always wanted a film (or just every movie) where Blanchett plays almost every role like an art-school version of Nutty Professor, but not at this expense. She could read the Miranda rights and bring angel tears to the audience. Her prescience is unequivocally the only redeeming factor of this movie.

As this was a visual art exhibition turned linear presentation, there's zero plot to speak of. Almost no one besides Blanchett speaks, at fear that they might be able to talk sense into Rosenfeldt's superiority stance on art. There’s no overarching connection between the many vignettes.

Rosenfeldt's words exude extreme amounts of arrogance that entices as much interest as being disciplined as a young child. It's agonizing with every word that Blanchett speaks. No blame can be put on Blanchett, she does what she can with the material, but the material happens to be condescending diary entries that supersedes anyone's acting chops.

There's a scene in Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men where Juror #10 goes on a spit flinging rant while all the other jurors slowly get up from the table and turn their back to him. He continues loudly asking what is wrong with all of them and the way they think.

Rosenfeldt is Juror #10 with Manifesto and we are all the other jurors. While he's throwing outfits and wigs at Blanchett to get different POVs expressed, he always ends up where he starts. One-sided arguments with no clear point or depth. Everything expressed is static that echoes through an unfazed auditorium. But Rosenfeldt doesn't care about my opinion or anyone else's. He will continue expressing condescending thoughts even if all he hears back is the reverberations of his own voice in an empty room.

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About the Author

Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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