Junun explores the sounds of Indian culture


Vache Sarkissian

The premiere LA screening of ‘Junun’ in the historic United Artists theater at the Ace Hotel on Broadway.

On Sunday night, hundreds of movie lovers and music fans alike gathered in The Theater at the Ace Hotel in Downtown LA to view a special screening of the short film Junun, director Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest project. This obscure little documentary is just under an hour and is a visual documentation of guitar player Jonny Greenwood’s (Radiohead) trip to India earlier this year and his collaborative album of the same name with Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur.

The film is a treat for fans of Radiohead, who have been waiting patiently for a ninth studio album for over a year now, as well as a treat for fans of P.T. Anderson, who have been recovering from his wildly intricate and riveting film based on a novel by Thomas Pynchon called Inherent Vice released last year.

This was the fourth addition in a series of many extraordinary collaborations between these two artists. Greenwood has scored Anderson’s past three feature films: There Will Be Blood, The Master and Inherent Vice. Greenwood’s musical voice seems to fit in perfect harmony with Anderson’s artistic vision. The two make a great pair and their friendship is a gift that keeps on giving.

Junun is more of a concert than a documentary. Featuring very little, unscripted dialogue, the film is essentially a series of performances shot in different locations in Mehrangarh Fort in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

This short film, although one that will probably not get the attention it deserves, is truly a cultural gem. Rarely are inhabitants of the western world able to see such a unique type of artistic expression and hear such new sounds being made from instruments we’re all familiar with. This minimalistic window into the lives of these extremely talented and passionate musicians from India is one through which there isn’t always a clear view. Greenwood did us all a huge favor by delving into the world of Indian music and P.T. Anderson made it all worthwhile by making such a spectacular movie out of it.

The film is currently only available for online streaming through the website mubi.com, a site really only for hardcore cinephiles. Hopefully Junun will be more accessible in the near future so that everyone can see this truly unique and enlightening film.

Rating: 8/10