Saturday, June 10, 2006

Conversations with Other Women

After a particularly long day at work last Wednesday, I was looking forward to going to the movies. Sitting alone in the dark always relaxes me and I come out refreshed. Little did I realize that Hans Canosa's Conversations with Other Women would depress the fuck out of me.

In brief, the movie is about a man (Aaron Eckhart) and a woman (Helena Bonham Carter) who meet at a wedding. They talk, they flirt, they hint at a shared history, then they confirm it. They were married once, but they haven't seen one another in nine years. They've both moved on with their lives (nominally, at least), but their love hasn't faded, so, although they spend the night together, their reunion is fraught with a tragic nostalgia because there's little hope that things will work out for them; their thirty-something lifestyles and committments won't allow for them to run off together like they could when they were young. Like I said, depressing.

Nonetheless, depressing alone isn't enough and if that were all there was to the film, I'd say that Linklater's Before Sunrise and Before Sunset would render it completely redundant. (In fact, when we see flashbacks of the man and woman - we never learn their names - during their marriage, the younger version of the man looks much more like Ethan Hawke than he does like Eckhart.) Although the acting and writing are both quite good, the subject matter feels unoriginal in the context of Linklater's films. Thankfully, however, Canosa's visual presentation of the film is rather new: the whole film is shot in split-screen.

Frequently this means that the left half of the frame simply shows another angle of the same scene depicted on the right, which has the interesting effect of keeping the man and woman apart even when they're right next to one another. Other times, the split-screen compares the present with the past, or reality with what could be. Either way, what sounds like a gimmick when lazily described on a blog saves this movie from anonymous mediocrity and gives a hackneyed subject enough emotional force to, as I said (forgive me for splitting that infinitive), depress the fuck out of me.

It's way too hot out for me to sit in front of my computer and postulate about the significance behind the use of the split-screen (short attention span? a new internet-age ability to absorb more information at once? globalization?!), so I'll just put up a link. For a non-depressing split-screen experience, check out this commercial, which has played in every movie theater I've been to in the last couple months. I quite like it.

6 Comments:

Blogger Rival said...

Good lord Steve, Time Code was shot entirely in split screen. That gimmick is not "entirely new". YOU HAVE A LOT TO LEARN. Although in your defense Ebert makes tons of blunders. Sometimes it's almost as if he hasn't seen the movie. If you want advice on which film critics to read, you know where to find me. But please PLEASE, fact check your posts. This is getting absurd

June 11, 2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 11, 2006 1:22 PM  
Blogger steve said...

Time Code was shot in four separate quadrants and was an experiment in real-time. Rarely did the four separate quadrants overlap with one another and the film had nothing to do with space (emotional or actual) between its characters. As the title suggests, it was about time, simultaneity, and improvisation.

As such, I thought it pretty obvious that these two films had nothing to do with one another, but, you're right, my wording is vague and I'll change it.

June 11, 2006 2:15 PM  
Blogger adam said...

rival, I am LOVIN it! you make the best points and you are a smart man.

seriously though, you my nigga.

June 13, 2006 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

adam is really hip, but he forgot to put a [sic] after "nigga".

June 15, 2006 8:44 PM  
Anonymous the grammarian said...

Anonymous, I think you misunderstand the use of [sic]. You're only supposed to use it after quoting someone else who made a grammatical or syntactical mistake. It is employed to demonstrate that the current author is not being careless, but rather accurate. It means "thus." As in, it was "thus" in the source material. Perhaps I am merely overlooking an embedded joke. If so, please forgive my presumption.

June 22, 2006 1:35 AM  

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