Reaction to NIGHT REGULATION
(PS: For the record, I found New York generally charming, having encountered many nice people and much fine food on my recent visit there. Any 'apocalypse' is, as usual, entirely my own...)
It was as, you said, your 'New York film'- but it is a history piece too. I felt so compressed watching it, as if drifting through the NY of olde, seeing the pavements, the structures through the gritty, sulphuric black & white, moments of illness (extreme colour). I found it very interesting that, at least in my mind, the use of colour here wasn't a signal or anything (in the same way it wasn't in Damp Access), it wasn't a climax in any way- that was what was so upsetting, it arrived after an extreme fully manifested 'moment'- sometimes of pure gloom and revealed something new- as if one were hearing the sound of flies popping, crackling and dying, followed by being shown the carcasses with the glow of an electric blue light, the smouldering bodies revealed through smoke in an illness of colour. It affected me a lot.
Completely apocalyptic, the drone of the warning sirens, the 'everything must go' sales, the rotten streets. Life only seen through into the shadows (Vicky entering the apartment complex or the camera gliding through the dark into the LED space with the voices of people, then out the other side- such a wonderful homage to Zulawski perhaps?). It seems life has hidden itself from the streets, it is ashamed, and the camera like a war-reporter takes to the asphalt to see what is left. And what is there left? New York seems lost, just utterly wasted away, an elephant graveyard; the bodies of old starlets like Gena Rowlands, or that girl from Permanent Vacation reduced to concrete statues, not like old Greek statues (the daughter of Zeus, or Venus De Milo etc) but like the bodies found after Hiroshima or Pompeii. It felt as if your presence there was like that of a ghost, walking through the streets, revealing the places perhaps where all the great films were made (that shot of Vicky with sunglasses near the bins was a like a note to Ferrara). The smoke and then the sounds of the water and the traffic and the occasional distorted and slowed few seconds repeat of a police siren, as if the past was reaching the present or vice versa.
When the darkness falls, and the lights come out, that's when things got very scary. Parts of the city light up, like old nests- traffic ratcheting its way in dark, grey swarms towards the dying hive. What was most striking was that the film was even darker in the daylight scenes... It really felt like New York at the end of the 1970's (the long shot of the bridge and buildings with boat and skyline). Beautiful.
What was so worrying was the solar panels reaching out blocking the old buildings, as if the drowning creature was trying anything for one last breath. And finally the last scene, with you in the bathtub and that humming sound, just complete claustrophobia, not from the small room, the tub, city itself or the atmosphere, but the history or what little of it is left.