The Monk and the Prostitute
Artemis Furie | New York, NY | 06/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"1/3" is a wondrously disturbing visual poem about the intersection of two worlds, one of peace, one of violence. The protagonist is a Buddhist monk (Ivo Velon) artist living in the East Village whose day and night are bounded by rituals that create the maximum state of blissful detachment. His antagonist is the prostitute, Lotusia (Diana Gitelman) who lives next door and whose johns are an array of urban archetypes - the detective, the policeman, the photographer, the grocer, and the homeless punk. The Monk sketches Lotusia surreptiously as she passes his easel daily in Washington Square Park. Their worlds are so separate they may as well be living on different planets. Yet her life begins to intrude on his when he literally pierces the material divide between them. With all his monastic reserve, he takes to voyeurism quite avidly. But he is soon shaking and sobbing at multiple and repetitive scenes of her BDSM scenarios with customers which the filmmaker traces in b&w flashbacks to Lotusia's abusive cop mother and victimized Dad. In spite of this, The Monk maintains his detachment until the very last frame. Their final collision is quite random and delivered with a fatalistic punch. The entire film is acted with no dialogue. The closing credits roll with an excellent original song "See What I Told You."
Screenplay by Yongman Kim and Ed Moran. Directed by Youngman Kim. With Ivo Velon and Diane Gitelmam. Distributed by Kino International. Original Music by Dominick Mack and Ed Moran.
The Buddhist Inferno
Brendan M. Howard | Kansas, USA | 06/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Without talking, a prostitute and a Buddhist monk interact passively. Beautiful Lotusia discovers a hole in her wall to his room, but never interacts directly. Ascetic monk Chris finds the hole and can't bring himself to turn away from his view into one young woman's hell. This is supposed to be based on Dante's Inferno. But is Chris Dante? Is the monk the calm, distant observer of the suffering of the street punks, perverts, and prostitutes around him? Or is he in the Inferno, perhaps purgatory, where he observes the horrors, knows of the horrors, but is not experiencing the horrors.
The Buddhist monk is to cut the chains from life so he can achieve nirvana and enlightenment here on earth and elsewhere, breaking from the karmic circle. But Chris' observation of Lotusia's sexual acting out and suffering becomes subjective and empathetic. While he doesn't say he wants to save her from herself, the plot drives us there with him as he seems to come to that sudden enlightenment of intense compassion for others driven by worry about their mortal well-being. That isn't very enlightened, perhaps, but it is surely of the Buddha, who stayed behind after achieving Nirvana because he said when any one being has not achieved enlightenment, it is as if no one has.