If I’m being 100% honest, I am cinema illiterate. I am a simple fan of film. I enjoy cinema. I am easily entertained by films of most genres. I am easily pleased. I don’t need to “get” a film to enjoy it. I like being puzzled or confused by films. I can go with the flow and enjoy the spectacle of a film without worrying if it makes sense. Films don’t need to be art for me, but I do get annoyed by some lowest common denominator films. (Note the “some”). So writing about the films I saw yesterday at the Glasgow Film Festival is a challenge yesterday as they are both unconventional and stylistically out of the ordinary.
The Double (dir. Richard Ayoade, yes Moss from The IT Crowd) is a reworking of Dostoevsky’s novella of the same name. Set in a murky dystopia, Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg), a awkward data office drone works in a grim setting with archaic machinery, and is driven mad by the appearance of his doppelganger James Simon. James (also played by Eisenberg) happens to be Simon’s opposite, – outgoing, confident and attractive to women. While the original novella is reportedly dark and sinister (I’ve not read it), Ayoade’s interpretation is playful and amusing. I was reminded of a lighter, less uproarious version of Gilliam’s Brazil, while watching, and on reflection, this is very likely intentional. Everything is greige (you know, that greeny beige) in this grimy world, and even Mia Wasikowska, the photocopy clerk, admired by Simon James and dated by James Simon), is gloomy. Despite the drab look of the film, it’s often hilarious. The only actual colour in the film comes from a ridiculous TV show, seen on tiny screens, starring Paddy Considine which raises a laugh every time. There are great cameos from Ayoade’s contemporaries in UK comedy TV (Chris Morriss in particular), and great comic touches throughout, particularly playing on awkward Simon’s insecurities. A most enjoyable film by Ayoade, and I hope he goes on to make more of the same quality.
As I said at the beginning of this blog entry, I am cinematically illiterate. I have not seen Santa Sangre or El Topo. I only know Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s name, and associate him with his failed project to direct Dune. So I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I saw his latest film, The Dance of Reality. The film is a autobiographical account of Jodorowsky’s childhood in Chile, but veers off to follow his father in a fantastical plot to try to kill the president. The film is stylistically selfconscious, with the director making several appearances in the film, adding to the unreality of it all. Sara, Jodorowky’s mother sings every line, which completes the surreality. Jaime, the protagonist of the film is played by Brontis Jodorowsky (the director’s son), is a cruel dictator of a man, and at the beginning of the film he dresses as Stalin, subjecting his young son to dental treatment without anaesthetic in an attempt to toughen him up. All in, The Dance of Reality is an enjoyable romp. Brontis Jodorowsky was present for a Q&A after the film, and was given a run for his money by the audience, some of whom found the acting style offputting. Being easily entertained, however, I did enjoy the film, letting the madness wash over me, and going with the flow. Not a film for everyone, I admit, but I did like it.