Day 7: September 15

10:55 a.m.

Interlude: Smoking, Sleeping, Cleaning

(In line outside the Cumberland theatre) I'm thinking of taking up second-hand smoking. It's very easy to do in downtown -- just hop from doorway to doorway and you're sure to find cliques of wage slaves choking their sorrows.

After 8 hours of sleep and an unhurried morning, I'm feeling way better than yesterday. I haven't had to sit through a two hour subtitled snoozefest. Yet.

(Inside the theatre) Where is everyone? The house is only 1/3 full. Do they know something I don't?

I wonder how they clean the floor in this theatre. It's a sloped made of painted concrete. Do they have someone swab it with a mop, or is there a more elaborate flush system that sends a sheet of water from the back into hidden sluices down front, floating empty drink containers and candy wrappers along like an Biblical inundation? I can imagine sociologists from the university coming over at night, notebooks in hand, inspecting and cataloguing the detritus by type and amount left unconsumed. A report is published and read with great interest by suits in stone office buildings.

11:30 a.m.

Les Enfants Du Siècle

Diane Kurys
France, 1999
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Benoit Magimel, Stefano Dionisi, Robin Renucci, Isabelle Carré, Karin Viard, Olivier Foubert

The newish Juliette Binoche film. Couldn't help trying to imagine it as a continuation of "Hussard Sur Le Toit", but it's not. Binoche plays writer George Sand. The film is about the romance between Sand and fellow writer Alfred de Musset. Binoche is great, but it was the pacing and music that sabotaged the movie for me.

It's no doubt heresy, but I kept thinking back to Judy Davis playing George Sand in "Impromptu," a much lighter film. Davis wears dark lipstick and has the most wonderful eyes.

3:30 p.m.

Tempting Heart

Sylvia Chang
Hong Kong/China/Japan, 1999
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Gigi Leung, Karen Mok, Sylvia Chang

I am becoming progressively disenchanted with Chang's films, and it's making me grumpy. This movie seemed about 2 hours long at the 70 minute mark. Left early to have dinner with a friend who had to cancel anyway. Ate noodles alone.

6:45 p.m.

The Life Before This

Jerry Ciccoritti
Canada, 1999
Cast: Catherine O'Hara, Joe Pantoliano, Sarah Polley, Stephen Rea

Not a bad bit of Canadian film -- but not stellar either. It shows the way a half-dozen people's lives play out so that they all meet at a cafe where many end up dead after two thieves with guns shoot up the place.

Catherine O'Hara was there, and she's great. My glamour quotient is fulfilled for the day.

What's promising: The writer, the cast (especially the young girl who plays the violin player).

What's no so promising: The director. I didn't like his choice to shoot in a variety of camera styles (Intentional, to reflect the infinite possibilities of the story, he said. Bite me, I said.) And I thought some of the scenes were blocked in a most peculiar way.

When the cast came to the front of the theatre, I was astounded at how un-tall most of the actors were, especially after seeing them (huge) on-screen for 90 minutes. I think I still have the idea that important people are all taller, older, and more responsible and smarter than me. I don't know if celebrities count as necessarily "important", but let's say they do, just for the sake of argument. Probably a holdover from childhood, the duty to respect one's parents. I wonder if there are any films where the actors are intentionally shot from above, making them look short.

9:30 p.m.


Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Japan, 1999
Cast: Koji Yakusho, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Ren Osugi, Yoriko Doguchi, Jun Fubuki

The first Kiyoshi Kurosawa film I've ever seen, this is about good and evil in the naked forest. In his introductory comments, Kurosawa said he wanted to strip away all of the urban elements from the story (to get closer to the story, I think.) And so we have a big city cop wandering through a forest. A biologist studying the evil plants do. A mentally unstable man who... who... lives in an abandoned hotel. Government men, the whole cast of your basic film noir. Beautifully filmed -- the outdoor scenes are breathtaking. And all the interiors look like places I'd like to live myself. Full of wood, light, and plants.

Bizarre and a little abstract, this was a big winner for me. Though I wish I had been more alert for it. Only through the strength of an ox wished by a friend did I stay awake till the end. I sense a lot of snoozing in my future.

Some thoughts and themes from Kurosawa:

A tree falls in the forest, and it makes a noise.

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