Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tabu (2012) New York Film Festival (2012)

I had not intended on seeing Tabu at the NYFF. The film didn’t sound interesting to me. Then glowing word started to filter out of the Toronto Film festival I became intrigued. 

I became more intrigued because Kenji,  a writer whose opinion I respect didn’t like it.  While that in and of itself should be a clue that I shouldn’t see it, he said, even as he dismissed the film, that he could be wrong and that there could be something to the film. Indeed when I got to the press screening he was sitting waiting to go in.

 I should have trusted Kenji’s first impression.

I was bored.

Billed with talk of absurdism, surrealism, Murnau,Bunuel and others, this is a multi- part story about love and other things, I think. I freely admit that I left 90 minutes into this 118 minute movie so that I could get back to my day job. Let me say that again, I would rather be at my desk going over never ending streams of names and numbers on a computer screen rather than seeing how the film came out

The first part of the film tells the story of a great white hunter going into the bush to forget lost love. He ends up meeting his destiny with a crocodile.

Part two follows a woman living alone and her interaction with an older woman living next to her.  She has lost all her money in a casino , her daughter has ignored her and she claims her maid is a witch.

Part three is a flash back to some 50 years earlier to the story of her in Africa where she meets a man she has an affair with.

Shot in moody black and white in Academy ratio the dialog is loopy, the performances distant and the attitude is detached. I didn’t care about anyone because everything was so forced.  I kept feeling like I was being rammed in the ribs by an unfunny friend who wanted to get his unclever and unfunny jokes…at least that’s what I felt like when I would open my eyes to read the subtitles. Nothing is shown to us in a way for us to discover it, it's held up as if to say This is important.

A Polish student comes to Lisbon and tells one of the characters she's some one else. Its done so that we laugh at the situation, and it's framed as if to seem important.

Aurora has a long rambling speech in a casino after losing everything and it's done so in such away as to seem important (and as if Gena Rowlands were doing it in a Cassavettes film- whip off those glasses girl)

The absurdity is forced  inan attempt to mimic an early Jim Jarmusch or Guy Maddin film. The mopey hunter that opens the films, the odd off camera leap to the crocodile  reminded me too much of other better films and filmmakers.

To me the film fails, especially in the supposedly better second half because there are no characters. We have actors dressed up in clothing that doesn't seem to jibe with when the film is taking place. It seems more like dress up. The voice over narration over the improvised silent footage drains the life out of everything because those aren't real people up there. Its over done not in the style of Murnau, which is often quoted, rather like some bad home movie made on super 8 by someone who had no clue about what they were doing or aping a style they didn't understand.

People are raving about this? Really? What film are they seeing? No wait the woman behind me was laughing through much of it. hopes that she really found something funny and wasn’t dropped as a child.

This movie is terrible. I’m sure that this might have worked if the filmmaking hadn’t been so affected.

Seriously I was bored silly. I would have walked out a half an hour in but I had read about a miraculous second half.  The second half just bored me further as I kept wanting to ask lots of questions, not the least of which being why are you taking so long to tell me this story?

I am convinced that anyone who found the film enthralling  and worthy of an award is simply afraid to say that they didn’t get it or that the director is full of crap.  I suspect someone said they liked it and everyone went along with it because they didn’t to seem stupid…

This is the sort of art film I hate..  stupid, full of itself and dumber than even pretentious twaddle. The film played last night and again on the 13the at the festival and opens in theaters December 26, but I’m sure you’re smart enough not to bother.

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