Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism: The Film so Nice They Named it Twice
one frustrated Romanian filmmaker explains, the physical practicalities of film
rolls used to impose eleven minute limits per take. For some members of the
Romanian New Wave, such constraints were a blessing. Indeed, Corneliu Porumbiu
will never exceed the eleven minute barrier for any of the eighteen cuts in When Evening Falls on Bucharest or
here), his 35mm meditation on the coming digital
era, which opens tomorrow in New York.
on Paul’s latest film has been a little rocky. He has substantially rewritten many
scenes at the last minute to greater feature Alina, a supporting player whom he
has started sleeping with. In addition, he suspects his ulcers have returned
and his hard-charging producer constantly busts his chops. As a result, Paul
becomes listless and somewhat withdrawn, aside from sex and a series of awkward
cigarette and coffee-fueled conversations with Alina.
a sense, Metabolism is the Day for Night of slow cinema. While
staying true to Porumbiu’s severe style, it shows true affection for raggedy,
put-upon filmmakers. Its purity is admirable, but it still suffers from the
lack of a peppy Georges Delerue score. Still, it delivers some pointed insights
into the filmmaking process and Porumbiu even offers slyly veiled criticism of
himself in the final scene, but Metabolism
remains the exclusive terrain of cineastes who enjoy talky films but cannot
take the breakneck pace of My Dinner with
is safe to find Metabolism glacially
paced and static looking, but Porumbiu still controls the tone quite
masterfully. It looks like Bucharest is a perennially nocturnal city, where
there is much drinking going on, yet it is always eerily quiet. Viewers get a
nostalgic sense of the “Wild East” days on the immediate post-Soviet era, but
with a distinctly depressive Romanian twist.
her feature debut, Diana Avrǎmuţ’s icy reserve and brittle vulnerability
suggest she could become the Anna Karina of the Romanian Wave (or a Monica
Vitti, whom several characters compare her Aline with). Bogdan Dumitrache also makes
Paul feel highly flawed and relatively real, charting a middle course between
black jeans wearing hipster and schlubby loser.
Paul’s thoughts on cinema are clearly informed by Porumbiu’s experiences, Metabolism’s analysis of Asian cuisine
actually falls wide of the mark, confusing the westernized innovations
documented in The Search for General Tso for
the real McCoy. Somehow, that really doesn’t matter. It is the ambiance and Porumbiu’s
underlying aesthetic approach that define Metabolism.
The former is strangely effective, in a grungy sort of way, while the latter is
what it is. Recommended mostly for ardent admirers of the Romanian New Wave and
Slow Cinema, When Evening Falls on
Bucharest or Metabolism opens tomorrow (1/9) in New York, at the Elinor
Bunin Monroe Film Center.
Labels: Corneliu Porumboiu, Romanian Cinema