When latinos like us make films! CANNES you expect much more?

12 Oct – London Film Festival 2015 6th day

18:30 Chronic    de Michel Franco

won Best Screenplay in Cannes this year.

Tim Roth en plein form.

Well… I should have chosen this film for Michel Franco in the first place, and not just for Tim Roth. But somehow it’s only long after this screening that I realised this was the guy who directed “After Lucia” two-three years ago.

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That film was searingly disturbing. A sort of social psychological abuse inflicted upon her by a girl’s new high school colleagues. A very debated storyline. A film you find almost impossible to withstand from a point onwards, though it constantly leaves just enough space to breathe and accept the morally unacceptable. Then uses this every level of distressed accommodation with the truth to smash you to pieces. A firm grip on just enough of your morals in a “modern society” to turn your pattern of dealing with reprehensible behaviour upside down.  A very good one. Michel won Un Certain Regard with that one. And I commented about this one because in many ways that same hand deals with much more subtlety and refinement in Chronic. And some accents towards the end of the latter remind you of how Michel can operate on deep emotions just with a flick of touch, not even calling names or labelling this inner “it”.

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“Chronic” is a much quieter film than After Lucia. A story about an infirmier/nurse doing extended home attendance to terminally ill patients. Nothing weird in his heightened attention and practical empathy to his patients. Almost to the point of manifesting or appropriating a family status when in relation to that patient. 100% dedication.

Hard. Clinic. Raw emotion. Very restrained. Nothing weird in it. About death. Low simmering tone. You expect some strange behaviour or deviancy to happen at any moment. At least I was, influenced also by the film’s synopsis.  But there doesn’t seem to be any element to trigger the story. At least not in the fashion you’re accustomed to. No outcry. The only deviant thing are the patients’ illnesses. And David (Roth’s character) offers a caring practicality to convey a sense of normality and dignity to each patient in turn. Learns to keep away when rejected.  Very humane. A personal event where his (younger?) son died of cancer or similar. This makes you think he may have ended his son’s misery. But that’s not clear. Film scratched away at my heart by similitude to familiar stories, that of Jeni, that of hospitals. The obvious care and tenderness. Reminds of Amour by Haneke. But as your mind prepares for something that may happen, your heart already blemished by the slow soul stripping story, there’s this point finale that elicits a sudden adrenaline shot, and all your nakedness now shivers. A film about normality. As much as one can maintain when chronic dire circumstances surround him/her.

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Intermezzo…. a smell that travelled with me from Curzon Mayfair to Cine Lumiere.

Must have been someone around me. In both cases. A man/woman. First film a slow infusionof Y’s perfume. The second of M’s. So that opened up that line of senses.

Met again that witty tall usher girl I had had a funny short exchange with over the weekend:

eu: Oh, so you came back!

(she was between the lanes picking up popcorn packs etc…)

Oh, yes!, Hi again!

si apoi am vbit de filme. si ce anume am vazut mai fain so far. Last time glumeam cu ea ca o sa-mi puna lanterna aia in ochi ca la interogatoriu. Ea: Da, what you got in the bag!  eu: Everything!  dar ar fi trebyit sa spun: My heart! or something. Do you wanna hold it a bit? 🙂

Not beautiful, but interesting. Slim, tall, putin adusa de umeri, dar asa still teenage slacker. 27-30ish?

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21:00 Un etaj mai jos   de Radu Muntean

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I’ve seen all his long features starting with Furia, then Hartia va fi albastra, Marti dupa Craciun and  Boogie  . Misto.

A film about neighbours and misunderstandings, suspicions, about deciding whether to reveal the truth, or wanting/not wanting to know for fear of getting involved or disturb a false sense of “regularity, peace, safe life routine”. Another slow build of moral tension that explodes. Beautiful filmmaking constructed around accidental eavesdropping and the inbuilt grain of shallow interaction upon finding out otherwise relevant info. You let it pass. Or rather he does. Nice ring tone of main character’s phone: Ceausescu‘s balcony “A-lo! A-lo!” A good bye in the end, from him, and a hello to a generation that actually gets out of line and asks you why! (check min 2:05 here) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcRWiz1PhKU

Good one. As refined stylistically as Marti…  , but with a bit more grind to it. A more acute tension. A film about us. I couldn’t help not being hooked by the small items I recognize from day to day life in middle class Bucharest. The interphone receivers, the taxi radio clicks. The casual talks. The strange mix of indifference with interference. A curiosity and taste for a bit of street circus but not so much as to blast you out of being … well ordinary. Only moral choices change that and expectations of what we do with ourselves as we shift into a newer and newer generation. Do we interrogate this?

Dar filmul poate fi din aproape oricare alta societate de tip mediteranean, sau south american. Sau harlemiana… cum comentam cu un englez dupa film. It’s not that post communist inheritance of an evesdropping society of informants, No!, Radu Muntean said so when asked. Este acea interactivitate sociala, mai dinamica si infringing a bit on your privacy. Definitely a bit more than in a british/london life. But that’s not necessarily strict Romanian.

I was actually conscientiously trying to watch it with a foreigners eye. Independent of any influences. I could. Still strong! Still catch. In its details.

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