Monday, December 30, 2013

Când se lasa seara peste Bucuresti sau metabolism (When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism)

Porumboiu ups the formal rigour of his last, Police, Adjective (2009), with a film composed of 17 shots, most capturing conversations for a full reel's 11 minutes, and filmed with an almost entirely static camera. His subjects are film director Paul and his actor and new bedmate Alina, rehearsing, eating, discussing the restraints (those 11-minute reels) of film versus digital, or how national cuisines developed according to the utensils used, with a subplot about Paul’s ulcer and his producer’s concerns. Paul and Alina contrast in his shlubby demeanour and her careful, dancer-like movements; they misunderstand one another over dinner; and he wearily humours her working over the fine details of a scene, in order to achieve his aim of getting her naked onscreen.

One gets the impression that Porumboiu has orchestrated everything down to the tiniest detail of hands moving a cigarette packet, for example, but to what end is unclear - the rhythms of the downtime evening after a long day's work; the lack of effective communication between people; the sly schemes of a film director to get what he wants, perhaps. Reviewing Paul's (faked) endoscopy the doctor says that something is missing (some identifying text on the screen) and that in film-making one puts what interests one at the centre of the frame, not in the margins. But what does he know? He's only a doctor. What seems to interest Porumboiu here is not the power of language, as in his previous film, but how language and behaviour can become banal at the end of the working day; the small, apparently insignificant occurrences, interactions and reactions which allow life to continue (that's metabolism, folks); and, explicitly, how form dictates content, pinning down the actors in long takes, realistic in their lack of ready-made climaxes and consequences - like Paul's gastritis, it's nothing dramatic, and as impressively-controlled as the direction may be, the film's take on what happens in the hours between shooting is, by its implied admission, less interesting than the process itself.

d/sc Christian Porumboiu p Sylvia Pialat ph Tudor Mircea ed Dana Bunescu pd Mihaela Poenaru cast Bogdan Dumitrache, Diana Avramut, Mihaela Sirbu, Alexandru Papadopol
(2013, Rom/Fr, 89m)
posted by tom newth at

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