“Johan Grimonprez: Blue Orchids”
Time Out says
As Trump spoils for whatever fight he can find, former New York Times war reporter Chris Hedges’s appalled characterization of “the psychosis of permanent war” strikes a resonant chord in Johan Grimonprez’s unforgettable new video, | blue orchids |. Constructed around two chilling interviews—one with Hedges, the other with former arms dealer Riccardo Privitera—the 48-minute piece examines the sustaining role of commerce in global conflict. Cutting between the twin encounters and a reconstruction of Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh’s 2010 assassination, | blue orchids| illustrates with stunning effectiveness that killing is a business—and a perennially lucrative one.
The work is entirely on-brand for Grimonprez, who made his name with 1997’s Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, a brilliant subjective analysis of airplane hijacking as interpreted by television news. It’s also a near impossible act to follow, so a shorter video screening directly after—Raymond Tallis | on tickling—is thoroughly upstaged. But while it feels less urgent than its predecessor, the second film is stimulating nonetheless, with the titular philosopher-neurologist framing the phenomenon that people cannot tickle themselves, only each other, as an emblem of the role relationships play in the formation of identity. After the horrors of | blue orchids|, Raymond Tallis seems touchy-feely and abstract, but it’s none the worse for that.