Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fantasia 2011 (Day 15)


Only one film? Two reasons for that. First, the sold-out screening for Absentia, which repelled me beyond the limits of the De Sève theater following Surviving Life. Secondly, the book launch (for Vies et morts du giallo) that got me drinking whiskey amidst tightly-knit friends and interesting strangers, whom I was too pathologically timid to approach. Story of my life: I finally do something good with my life (contribute an essay to a collective study of the giallo), something that could open me up to outsiders who might look a bit like myself, maybe just enough to generate a tacit bond, somewhat of an intellectual link maybe. But then I clam up and rush toward the most familiar of friends, the most predictable of relationships... and I drink. Whenever I have to deal with anyone outside my close circle of friends, I drink. I figure that it is the only way for my tongue to loosen, for me to do more than just stand awkwardly and fiddle with my right shoulder (which is also what I do on any given dance floor). But it is actually the best way for me to look like the alcoholic that I am in front of everybody, and for all of my inhibitions to drop, prompting me to dash toward the nearest exit every time and just wander back home where I feel safe and secure. Yep... another righteous night of bullshit for me, and another perfect occasion to look like a total retard when it should've been a chance for celebration...

So, I drank whiskey at Reggie's, whiskey being the sole salary I drew for the tens of hours I spent on my essay. Then as soon as I could, when the clock hit 6 o'clock, I quickly rounded up all of my friends and dragged them outside for a wild walk across downtown to the edge of the East Side. That was fun, if entirely conventional. Talking bullshit with guys such as myself, being myself in the process, and letting the alcohol slowly invest my veins and crown my brain with a tiara of warm inebriation. The sights and sounds of the city, but mostly the familiar voices of my friends, these were the things I managed to enjoy on that night, not the stuffy and awkwardly peopled interiors of Reggie's bar. Yet... it wasn't where I had put my most feverish expectations. And so I disappointed myself for the umpteenth time... making a proverbial fool out of this painfully honest narrator endlessly dissecting himself in the present lines.


Surviving Life
Maybe the biggest disappointment this year, Svankmajer's latest is a technically subdued affair that embraces psychoanalysis so slavishly as to make you wonder about whether or not the man at the helm is still an iconoclast. The film chronicles the life of a dream raider who escapes from everyday tedium in the arms of a mysterious woman in red. While the premise is very intriguing (one is likely to think his dreams in terms of escapist fantasy), their interpretation is much less so as it is done using a strict psychoanalytical framework. The result is a silly investigation film that manages to keep you guessing only to provide overdetermined, unsatisfactory answers at the end. The repetitive, computer-generated stop motion animation actually contributes to the tedium which it is the objective of the film to escape. Shades of Alice and Conspirators of Pleasure seem light-years away.