PFF Day Four: The Not Good Day
Time Off (Francisca Schweitzer & Pablo Solís, Chile) [C+]
I don't think Schweitzer and Solís quite know what they have here: lead guy has abuse issues he should look into into before it gets worse, while lead girl is in fact a schizophrenic, albeit one of those delightfully aloof types you only see in the movies. This is some serious shit, though if S&S don't explore it, at least they respect it. Things start out quirky but soon a bottomless sadness: at first, the lead's friend who barely speaks and wears a Kangol hat is...well, Silent Bob; as the film proceeds, he starts to seem genuine, although guess what happens to him in the final act? At the end, it's suggested that not everything is supposed to be processed through our egocentric pseudo-hero, and that's worth something at least.
Evil (Yorgos Noussias, Greece) [C]
Greek zombies! Scuzzy DV and tonal switcheroos galore -- a pace-halting dark-night-o'-soul monologue swap is immediately followed by an undead oral sex gag -- but not without its delights: hilarious opening, trailing three infectees through their respective evenings before they snap in public, while one split-screen moment tries to line up two different shots, one of a guy running and another a mismatched close-up of his legs running. You might have had to have seen that last one.
Wah-Wah (Richard E. Grant, UK) [D+]
Just awful. The little I read of Grant's memoirs was wry and amusing; either I stumbled onto the wrong part or it just doesn't translate to film at all. Never a credible moment in this portrait of his youth in South Africa, thanks to sloppy writing (papa Gabriel Byrne's alcoholism goes on and off like a light switch), very sloppy direction, and some of the worst acting I've ever seen from talented thespians being directed by one of their own. Emily Watson would be wise to stay away from the Yank accent from now on, and what kind of movie is this where Miranda Fucking Richardson turns in the most nuanced perf? I like Grant enough to believe that it was something very personal that Just Didn't Work Out, but that should only tell you how much I dig him in Withnail & I, Hudson Hawk, et al. Also, Patrick Doyle should be dragged out back and shot. It would be about bloody time.
Porcelain Doll (Péter Gárdos, Hungary) [C+]
Eastern European Peasant Whimsy. Starts off deadly, but grows mostly tolerable -- occasionally even lovely -- once Gárdos drops the manic Avid schtick. (Dude! Why are you abusing the jump cut when your movie's barely 75 mintues long?) The slower the better, basically, casting a spell so that you don't notice that, say, one of the pieces of magical realism is swiped wholesale from Field of Dreams. It also manages to slowly leave behind the cute and take on the melancholy, one tonal shift so sudden that you could hear the room collectively gasp: this isn't the wacky, precious fable it was supposed to be! Still would've annoyed the bejesus out of me at any other time; after a day of below-par fare, it was narcotically pleasing.