Saturday, August 09, 2008

MIFF Roundup 3


There's one word to sum up my experience of watching this film.


Man, I've never been in a room with so many nerds in my life. My internal nerdometer was going off the scale. It was so nerdy that even the nerds there were commenting loudly on how nerdy the place was. I can make these prejudiced comments because clearly I was nerd enough to have a) bought a ticket to see an obviously nerdy anime that b) I had seen already and c) didn't much like the first time around. Also I saw it alone. When I got home I was so disgusted with myself that I had to do my civic duty and immediately give myself a wedgie, dunk my head in the toilet and scatter my playlunch around the yard.

The Evangelion series is apparently one of those super-anime numbers that ranks up there with the best ever, but when I watched a few episodes of it a while back I couldn't work out what all the fuss was about. It's one of those capers where the world is being attacked by giant space aliens and a couple of kids have to get into giant robot suits and have some fights. Later in the series I think it gets all psychodrama and it turns out that the aliens are something to do with our own thanatoid drives for self-destruction or Oedipal revenge or something, but all I got from the episodes I watched were a few crosses appearing when things blew up and a whiny main character who really, really hates his dad for not smiling when he talks to him. And also for sending him out in a giant robot to battle space aliens.

This new film is a rejigged compilation of the first three or four episodes of the series with a couple of new CGI bits spackled over some of the lamer animation that appeared in the original 90s series. The rest of the series will get the same treatment in the near future. Again, I think it might get better from here on in, but who knows? If you dig giant robot anime you'll probably get a kick from this, but then if you dig giant robot anime you've probably already seen it.


So there's this young Romanian couple who get home and all of their furniture is sitting out in the muddy carpark because they've been evicted and so they go to a graveyard to think and then the guy stands up because he sees some wedding rings in the grass and a bottle flies out of nowhere and knocks him out and then the woman stops a guy driving past in a jeep and the knocked-out guy wakes up in a hospital and he can't find the woman because she's moved in with the jeep driving guy (who is French) and then he gets a job as a giant beer and makes friends with a woman dressed as a giant mobile phone.

That's just the start of this film and I really quite enjoyed it despite myself. It sort of has the weird logic of a dream or, more rightly, of a little kid breathlessly recounting a story with not much control of narrative pacing or dramatic structure. It sort of a comedy, sort of a melancholy drama, sort of a something else entirely. It's the first film by the guy who made the very highly acclaimed 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and as a first film it does that typical old thing of having three separate stories which overlap and interlink in ways that only gradually become clear. It's shot in a pretty unexciting way and a lot of the plot is a bit humdrum but the interesting performances (everyone acts like they're rehearsing and don't realise the camera is rolling) along with the strange pacing and sometimes very confusing cultural differences of Romanian life make for a good little watch. There's a moment of hilarious casual racism which is incredibly jarring when it occurs, seemingly for laughs, but it sort of redeems itself as the film goes on, making you realise that this is a film made for Romanians who might not initially question their own racist attitudes, I guess.

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