Reviews: In Which I Walk Out of a Movie for the First Time in Possibly Ever

April 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm 4 comments

Bitter & Twisted

I never walk out of movies. I don’t know why not. I’m sure if I tallied up the number of hours I’ve wasted on films I should have walked out of — that had no promise to begin with and which, on that front at least, didn’t disappoint — I’d have another reason to sob into my pillow, as I do every night before I go to bed. Yesterday I walked out of a movie for the first time since…ever? I recall walking out of Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World, with a young Brad Pitt and an animated Kim Bassinger, back in 1991. But I was actually at the drive-in, so it was really more of a “drive-off.” I also never finished watching While You Were Sleeping on video a thousand years back. I don’t care if Peter Gallagher ever wakes from that coma.

It’s not even as though the movie in question — the Australian Bitter & Twisted (above, with an actress sporting my likely reaction had I stayed the full length) — was particularly awful. It was just dull, with a group of sadsacks being sad for reasons that aren’t particularly novel: dad’s fat, mom’s neglected and entering menopause, daughter’s having an affair, plus another guy who’s quiet and sad for reasons that weren’t immediately clear but would likely be mundane, too. They moped and the movie, rather than offer some insight or a countering tone, just moped along with them. Bitter and twisted are two emotions I would have greatly preferred, but this is more like Down & Blue. I gave it a half hour to improve and it didn’t. So I bolted. And it felt fucking great. Why don’t I do this more often?

Old Pardner

The movie I saw right beforehand, the South Korean doc Old Partner (B-), would be more likely to drive someone screaming from the theater. Concerning an old man and his old ox, it has every reason to be a simple, near-sadistic weepie. And yet director Lee Chung-ryoul makes sure it’s almost entirely unsentimental — an almost scoreless, tactile experience wherein the old man is shot almost entirely the same way as the old, old ox, who, like his owner, is really fucking old, and near-death. It’s man and beast put on the same level. (At one point the man is sitting there, silently and still, and the ox moos off-camera. And I swear for a second I thought it was the man mooing. But then there might be a reason for that.) This isn’t exciting stuff, exactly, and Old Partner can at times feel endless to no real point; I’m assuming the bell attached to the ox was placed there to keep festival-fatigued audience members from nodding off. (Thanks, whomever.) Of course, there’s also the man’s slightly younger, feisty wife, who nags her near-silent spouse endlessly and informs us multiple times that she married the wrong man. This is heading towards a ten-hankie climax, complete with close-ups of what looks like tears dropping from the ox’s eye and a hammering home of the film’s ode to the old-timers getting lost in the modern age yada yada. But by then the film has … well, almost earned the fuzziness.

Of Time and the City

Lauded English filmmaker Terence Davies has been AWOL since 2000’s quite good Edith Wharton do The House of Mirth. But rest assured, the bitteress that seeps through his doc/cinepoem Of Time and the City (B) isn’t new. With narration so posh it drips like molasses, Davies summons up, via archival footage and plenty of old standards, the Liverpool of his youth, roughly from the ‘50s through the ‘70s — pining for a dead world while also acknowledging the past always seems rosier from a far remove. His view is both micro and macro, concerning his budding homosexuality and break with Catholicism (“to become a born-again atheist, thank god”) as well as the rougher pars of England that are always infinitely far behind the view the nation has of itself. At first it seems like the straight version of Guy Maddin’s loopy My Winnipeg, but Davies can be just as witty, or at least hilariously crabby. In his own personal history of Liverpool the Beatles are but a footnote, indicative of something whose popularity, like that of the monarchy, crushes and obscures the little things. Davies sometimes loses control of his film, letting it meander or simply turning it over to long stretches of song and mostly random image. Other times his songs stand in too-ironic counterpoint to the misery on-screen. And yet other times, as with the finale, he aims for a bombast that borders on kitsch. But imperfect though it is, Of Time and the City is something in which to stew — to be soaked up like a sponge.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • […] Of Time and the City B Sun., April 5, 5pm, The Bridge. […]

    Reply
  • 2. Ben  |  April 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    What about The Story of Us? October 15, 1999. Walkout following Fight Club. Riverview. Philadelphia, PA.

    Reply
    • 3. mattprigge  |  April 4, 2009 at 4:56 am

      Yes, you’re right. We did walk out of that. And I have no regrets. In my defense, I’ve all but lost my mind at this point in the festival.

      Reply
  • 4. And We Out « Fest Phanatic  |  April 8, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    […] happen this year, at least not for me. I saw a couple great films and a couple terrible ones. I even walked out once. But most of the 70+ films (!!) I saw fell into the big, fat, doughy middle: not uninteresting but […]

    Reply

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