“The city (I thought) is so horrible that its mere existence and perdurance, though in the midst of a secret desert, contaminates the past and future and in some way even jeopardizes the stars.”
— Jorge Luís Borges, ‘The Immortal’
It is entirely appropriate that of the two film-festivals at which Yoni Goldstein and Meredith Zielke’s genre-straddling essay-film A Machine To Live In had its initial screenings, one (True/False) was a traditional physical experience and the other (Visions du Réel) was, due to the exigencies of the Coronavirus pandemic, an online-only, «virtual» affair. A dizzyingly, sometimes exasperatingly multi-layered portrait of the Brazilian capital Brasília, the picture moves freely between the actual, the meta-physical, and the purely conceptual—detailing «the failure of the most spectacular success of the world» – with illuminating, provocative results.
Brasília was constructed (as we here are informed) pretty much from scratch in one thousand days between 1956 and 1960, planned and envisioned as a city of the future: arguably the first truly 21st-century metropolis. Across the whole of the dense text of their …
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