I was very impressed with Le quattro volte (The Four Times) when I got a chance to see it at the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) It feels like a documentary but is actually a story as seen from the perspective of God, or the natural world, or the land rather than from an omniscient observer tending to a particular character or traditional story arc. It reminded me a bit of Bu san (Good Bye Dragon Inn) with its unusual narrator (in that case, the aging theater itself).
The film starts by following an old goat herder through his simple life. Like I say, it looks like a documentary, although I noticed a few little cinematic-style errors creep in, and (through the introduction) I already knew it was a narrative.
But you know, this isn't really the way to talk about the film. The mechanics of how it works aren't of much importance. It's a film about feeling, and about the broad strokes of reality. It'd be like trying to describe clouds by talking about evaporation.
It's got a refreshing way of using motion picture like a moving photograph. It's a snapshot of things as they are, and the nature of how "the way things are" is nonsensical since things are always changing. Life is change, death is change. And through this (pardon the apparently unavoidable cinematic metaphors) moving image — this lens into a world of our own from a vantage point seldom seen — we get hope, sadness, contemplation, and mirth all bundled untidily as life does.