Panorama | Vanguard
Rodrigo John’s bravely experimental work features 11 years of footage, all shot from his high-rise apartment in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Think Rear Window if James Stewart’s protagonist were a filmmaker, and a man investigating not murder but things more insidious, more mysterious, and, ultimately, more disturbing. There are so many different vantage points, camera positions, and focal distances that we never settle on any point of stability; John’s film is a continuous adventure of vision, taking us from beautiful downtown vistas to closer views that reveal ennui, destruction, and political unrest.
With this movie, John lays bare the voyeurism implicit in cinema’s appeal; he films the unsuspecting at work, on the streets, and in their homes, and his sense of curiosity is palpable. What his work may be above all, though, is a record of decline. The film’s soundtrack features news reports detailing the fall of Lula and the rise of Bolsonaro, and at various points we see marches, riot cops, and other markers of disaster… In his own idiosyncratic way, John has made an historical document, aiming the camera at the periphery of a national tragedy.