Monday, February 7, 2011

I Didn't Hate It, But I Don't Think I Got It

And I didn't by any means love What Time Is It There either. It was a strange viewing experience. Sort of like watching your screen saver for an hour and 45 minutes. Very rhythmic and slowly paced, which I suppose makes sense since it is a meditation on time. I thought it was interesting how they made the scenes rhyme--showing the characters in turn dealing with movement, and other people, and sex, and death. But I don't really know why. Is this supposed to be some comment on the Eastern and Western worlds? A philosophical exploration of time itself? If it's either of these, it explains why I'm not getting it.

The one character I found fully human and sympathetic was the mother, so desperately trying to escape time because of what it does to us--take the things we love, one by one. And that brings me to Paradise Now. I know it's only a coincidence that we've paired these two movies, but I think they speak to each other in an interesting way. What Time is a naturalizing account of loss and disappointment--it happens to everyone no matter where you might be living or who you are. But PN is very committed to a social/political explanation for the same phenomenon. The characters in the latter are suffering for a very specific reason that can (and the movie argues, should be) interrupted. I tend to respond more to social accounts of human suffering, but I think they both are probably in some ways true.

As for the list, I'm giving my vote to Paradise Now. I think though it might be clumsier--though I for sure found What Time boring, it was very skillfully and carefully made--it has the more urgent need for an audience, and is ultimately more rewarding. Nat?


  1. This line is brilliant: "Sort of like watching your screen saver for an hour and 45 minutes"

    I agree with your last sentence here--I think What Time very precise but so is a Swiss watch and I don't want to sit and watch the precision movement for the running time of a movie. Ultimately, life is clunky and is almost impossible to fit in a watch case.

  2. Yes! Exactly. What it says about how life and people interact/intersect is ultimately unconvincing because we DON'T rhyme that way. It made me feel like I was being kept at arm's length, which is strange for a movie about such human experiences as love, loss, alienation, confusion, etc. What do you make of the Asian dude and the ferris wheel at the end?

  3. Er . . . I don't quite remember a ferris wheel . ..