Errata, the first film I watched today in IFFK 2013, is a highly stylized non-linear thriller. The second film, When evening falls in Bucharest or metabolism, is basically a dialogue about the nuances of filmmaking. And then I saw a 1953 Jean Renoir film, French Cancan.
The film, directed by Iván Vescovo, is not your typical thriller. It starts with the hero, Ulises, finding one fine morning that his girlfriend Alma has vanished. His search for her leads to her sister and then to a bookstore which houses a rare original copy of a famous book written by Jorge Luis Borges. The book is highly sought after because it contains errata – a passage written by somebody else, not by Borges. During the search, he learns more about the book and about Alma. He meets her sister and soon he gets a phone call demanding ransom to release Alma. How does he find money to release his lover? Well, in case you have not guessed, by stealing the errata book.
The director adopts a zig-zag narration. While it is fast-paced and stylishly shot, it is kind of a random access movie. Time moves forth and back. Memories appear suddenly and realizations dawn belatedly. And there is a dream sequence within a dream, like the Borges stories. The film itself transforms into a kind of errata.
When evening falls in Bucharest or metabolism
Corneliu Porumboiu – of Police, Adjective fame – deals with nuances of film making. In that sense, this is a movie for moviemakers. The movie deals with many things, including the meaning of on-screen behavior and director’s and artist’s struggle to come up with the best scenes. Dialogues on these subjects between a director and his lead actress form the bulk of the movie. It is more like reading the transcript of a dialogue than a movie with twists and turns.
When it was released in 1953, Godard described the movie thus: “Every scene is a cartoon in movement”. It was one of the popular color movies of that generation. Unfortunately, it has not passed the biggest test of any art – test of time. Suffice to say that this is not the best of Renoir movies.