Second day. Breakfast room looking like a zombie hall where smiles are forbidden but black serious outfit and large frame glasses a must have….yes we made some comments, jokes and then, after enjoying a nice double portion of orange juice we moved to the first screening of the day, without knowing that we would meet some other zombies with the cheetah necklace later for other adventures.
But first things first : 208 min at 9 am, for Exodus, the masterpiece of Otto Preminger. Telling you the truth, despite our great interest for the topic (some complicated family history pushes me to watch such), we were afraid to not be able to watch the entire movie…and what a surprise to come out after 3h30 from the theater with the great feeling of having spent a highly fruitful moment.
If any specific comment should be made about the movie – a portrait of the creation of Israel – it is that we dared making choices in the 60s. Showing a certain reality with clear choices even if not absolutely in line with historical truth wasn’t much of a problem : your audience wouldn’t sue your for such or shout for scandal as it can be the case nowadays. And more interestingly watching some victims becoming rebels and having a cause and dealing with the complexity and consequences of their choices makes a real contrast with yesterdays movie.
For all our mathematics freaks that calculated it was lunch time after the movie, well first of all well done you are right, we indeed had a quick meal on a crowded restaurant with shouty hairy neighbors, taking some energy before the highly expected latest movie from the famous Swiss movie director Peter Mettler : The end of time.
And the end of our hope in some movie making in this part of the world. Do I exaggerate ? Yes of course. But I never felt tortured in a such a way when watching a movie. I liked his previous movies, maybe a certain youth and more relaxed attitude helped, but today I just couldn’t stand it.
How could I summarize it. Yes I know : when the high speed cameras of the National Geographic channel are meeting the most boring “clicheous” unbearable 14th years old tantric esotirical questions about the meaning of time. And of course, add a little of negativity end of the world we all will die by screwing the planet hint and you are done. My feeling after ? Headache, sadness, depression as first , believing I got injected some poisonous fluid called : in western countries you have time to talk about the meaning of time and what to do with it when in other places you deal pragmatically with time as no moment to rest in front of life.
Mmh I forgot to mention the last quote of the movie from Dostoievski about time, happiness and Russian dumplings. Well not really about the dumplings but it d have made a nice touch of lightness if.
My backseats neighbors are still shouting against the applauding monkeys I think.
That harsh experience pushed us to a well deserved break, as we never felt like this after a movie. By the way, how come can a movie suck you so much energy ? Why this permanent feeling of death in it, despite those amazing images ?
After the break, we had our war plan ready : be early at the Palavideo theater for a very intriguing movie called Image Problem, a fancy Swiss documentary about Switzerland . What a surprise to arrive to the entrance half an hour before and to be in a queue 3 times bigger than the theaters capacity. And yes here I go again with some little complain : I ve seen this happening more and more often within the last 3 years in this Festival. Rationalization ? Better profit ? Or too many guys with the cheetah pass ? Opened question addressed to the team of the event….Locarno, we have a Seats Problem.
Nevertheless we decided to move on time to the other side of the city for a movie about the Sagrada Familia and there again, great surprise to arrive and to be told it is sold out !
Another 2 minutes of complains (my god are we becoming locals ?) and we are forced to go and watch a totally out of our radar movie : Les Gouffres, by Antoine Barraud. Quite a surprise. First of all, it is a 64 min format. Secondly, it has only two main characters and one exists outside of the frame, leaving the other, a woman, alone vs her fears and emptiness of life. Beautiful images of some south American place, intriguing atmosphere of a person that is loosing her sense of reality. A very classic movie in the development of the plot, where you can totally feel that there was a clear premise that turned into some metaphorical treatment and script. Why not after all ? This is the holy code that is being taught in most of the cinema schools. A nice surprise worth being watched despite some depressing topic.
In order to get ready for the evening, a quick Indian food and the critical choice : another depressing movie but in the piazza grande ? Or a movie from the jury in a closed theater ? A brand new one vs an old one ?
After the afternoons experience we decided to apply an old Locarno rule : movies from the jury are always the best ones you can watch ! And there we are sitting in the Ex Rex , ready for Roger Avary’s Rules of Attraction movie. What a delight ! 110 min flew by with a great pop and irrespective rhythm ! The movie was made in 2002 but still seemed so actual with a great dynamic and idea of the mise en scene.
A strange day was it, and for the first time since a long period I got kind of angry. Indeed what I learned today is that time is relative, as well as the matters that bother us. It is impossible to make a scale or to say that what is your interest is weaker or stronger than mine. But what, for sure can be criticized is the maturity of your involvement in what you do, in the movies you make. Today I ve seen 4 different ways of dealing with life, past, fantasies and obsessions. In every case you could see a different approach, a different treatment but as well a clear split between a pretty mature approach of life with a responsible position vs a totally naive and safe posture. The old movies ( Exodus and The Rules of Attraction) are movies where the movie director takes the risk to not be right, not be totally exact and maybe not sure about everything but you see decisions and a statements in the choices and in the point of view. It doesn’t matter if you can be criticized, you know it is part of the game : you are not afraid of your convictions even if they don’t englobe every possible point of view.
In the two recent ones, I felt some fear from the directors, fear to be wrong, fear to dare claiming an idea, a political view and fear to not be artistic enough. An unpleasant mirror of todays western societies where , yes indeed it is the end of time, you think nothing more can be achieved, changes are possible but let’s do it quietly and almost secretly and stepping out of the range is too dangerous. Stick to the definition of your role. Any perturbation of the systems is not welcomed so let’s not be the one who do it. And actually, if there is any role – I insist that is is my personal perspective – where claiming out loud an idea is possible and even a preponderant part of the costume is as movie director. Even if you are into poetic, non narrative sensitive conceptual work, you have to put some strong content in it. Don’t mix up content and treatment. The most scary and disturbing premises can be presented in the most eclectic way, but when you seat in front , you can feel it.
Tomorrow another day full of cheetahs, badges, journalists, hipsters, bikes, Swiss Germans, Italian food, wine, naked people on the movies, flip flops, rain, boiled eggs for breakfast, fake croissants, smelly toilets, red wet carpets, zombies, sleeping audience, in a word : a relative day in the festival.
The movies :
Exodus, by Otto Preminger, USA, 1960, 208 min
The End of Time, by Peter Mettler, CH/Canada, 2012, 109 min
Les Gouffres, by Antoine Barraud, France, 2012, 65 min
The Rules of Attraction, by Roger Avary, USA/Germany, 2002, 110 min