Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fraternal Instincts: 10:30 P.M. Summer

10:30 P.M. Summer (1966) - Dassin
Atmospheric, fast paced film starring Melina Mercurie(Dassin's Anna Karina) as an aging alcoholic Maria, on vacation with her husband Paul (Peter Finch) and young, radiant friend Claire (scrumptious Romy Schneider). Through the dialog we learn that it was suspicious Maria's idea to bring Claire along because she wants to witness her husband's affair with Claire first hand. They arrive in a rural town in Spain en route to Madrid. There is a terrible storm and the whole town is in uproar because there has been a double murder- the film starts in rain, where a young Spaniard witnesses his wife and her lover in the heat of the moment and he shoots them both. Maria feels strange fraternity with the young man. He is on the roof, hiding! She has to help the fugitive!

10:30's strength is in its visuals- with a lot of overhead tracking shots and zoom-ins, the striking color photography and the crazy tango bar scene are quite beautiful and energetic. Arid vista of rural Spain and streets are stunningly photographed and resemble Antonioni's work. Great first half, but with the Marguerite Duras's slight script on brittle relationship, suggesting the affair maybe be all in Maria's head(with an arty fantasy/dream sequence), the film starts to run out of steam. The Antonioni-esque ending is neither resonating nor fitting with the rest of the film.

Alaska is for Lost Souls: Limbo

Limbo (1999) - John Sayles
Limbo Starts out like a typical John Sayles (Matewan, Lone Star) lesson in social anthropology. This time it's in Alaska: there are two types of people- ones who wear four thousand dollars worth of Gore-Tex and treat the 49th State like a theme park and there are the rest- working class sad sacks at a local tavern, drinking and lamenting. Then it turns into a lost in the great outdoors movie without abiding to any of the genre stereotype. It's a marvel to observe three people trapped both physically and figuratively in dread called life where the only outlet just might be death.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Donna) and David Strathairn (Joe) are both marvelous as lonely middle aged people who made some bad choices in their past and now only live for a couple of moments of bliss- on stage and on a fishing boat. Donna's morbid teenage daughter Noelle connects with Joe's earnest, guileless observations on their stranded-on-a-deserted-island situation. What can I say? Not a single false note in its two hour running time, Limbo is a beautifully written film about purgatory(with an end) that is effortlessly carried out with much affection and melancholy.