Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
BRAFF NY ’14: Never Too Old to Meow
Polk was once the Susan Sontag of Brazil, but it has been a long time since her
last book. It is fair to say she has had issues during the intervening time.
Viewers will learn them in dramatic detail when Polk reluctantly sits for an
interview with a journalist neighbor in Rafael Primot’s Never Too Old to Meow (slightly too revealing trailer here), which screens
during the 2014 Brazilian Film Festival in New York.
is still a recognizable name in literary circles, but she no longer has the
same cache as a public intellectual. With the expected publication of a long
awaited follow-up novel looming, she agrees to an interview for a hipster
magazine. Like a bitter old Lillian Hellman, Polk seems to do everything she
can to make Carol uncomfortable. There is a reason for her icy hospitality. The
two women are linked in extremely intimate ways. Let’s just say Polk used to
live in the penthouse instead of Carol.
Polk starts to warm to her guileless guest as the vino flows. Perhaps they can
form some sort of alliance as fellow women of letters. And then the film turns
into a completely different animal—one that makes more sense to be covered
here. It is hard to avoid spoilery terms (although the ominous opening credit sequence
foreshadows the big twist), but one might say Meow starts in the vein of a Mary McCarthy novel and then takes a
detour into Joyce Carol Oates’ darker terrain.
Meow just doesn’t know when to quit.
There is an obvious concluding place that would serve as a much darker but more
powerful exclamation point to their strange evening. Regardless, there is no
question Primot pulls the audience into what is essentially a one-set
two-hander. His disciplined approach is not overly showy, yet it is open enough
to avoid staginess, much in the tradition of some of Polanski’s more grounded
is also pretty clear Meow was intended
as a showcase for Regina Duarte, who marked her fiftieth anniversary as a multiple-screen
actor last year. She is ferocious as Polk, especially when chewing on her early
acerbic one-liners. The entire film is stacked against Bárbara Paz’s Carol, but
she holds on and guts it out admirably well, all things considered.
is not the sort of Jill Clayburgh movie Meow
originally presents itself to be. Frankly, you do not see such radically
gear-shifting in film or television very often, which makes it quite cool, in a
rude sort of way. Recommended for patient fans of sinister psychological
thrillers (but not the cat lovers who might be accidentally drawn to it), Never Too Old to Meow screens tomorrow (6/3) and Thursday (6/5) as part of this year’s Brazilian Film Festival in New
York at the Tribeca Cinemas.
Labels: BRAFF NY '14, Brazilian Cinema