Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Skolimowski’s 11 Minutes
they had the apocalypse and nobody noticed. Actually, calling it Armageddon
might be overstating matters. It might be more like a sudden outbreak of bad
karma happens around a public square in Warsaw, between 5:00 and 5:11. Do not
obsess over the time line, just try to keep up with the comings and goings of the
characters in Jerzy Skolimowski’s multi-braided 11 Minutes (trailer
opens this Friday in New York.
clock will not be ticking towards 5:11 in 24-style,
because Skolimowski decided it was too confining. He made Moonlighting, so he is entitled to call a sudden audible.
Regardless, we will not see the sun set on this large assembly of not
necessarily inter-related characters. As we can tell from flashbacks, there was
something portentous about the day. In fact, several rather offhandedly mention
seeing something odd in the sky, and then go about their day.
actress Anna Hellman, it involves meeting a predatory, date-rape-drug-slipping
producer in his hotel room to discuss a most likely bogus part. Simultaneously,
her newlywed husband will tear through the hotel, ducking security and hoping
intuition will bring him to the right room. Meanwhile, a hot dog vendor who
most likely served time for pedophilia awaits a ride from his son, who just
barely escaped from his lover’s bed before her husband arrived. Frankly, it was
not a clean getaway.
wait, there are many more subplots for Skolimowski cut to and from, including
the alpinist lovers who scale their way into an empty hotel room for an awkward
assignation. There is at least another disaffected youth as well, whose
criminal scheming will come to naught, or worse. Unfortunately, emergency
services will be needed, but Skolimowski’s team of first responders are bogged
down with a blocked stairway that complicates their attempt to reach a pregnant
woman and an ailing man.
11 Minutes is more a feat of juggling
than cinema. Conceptually, it has all been done before, but Skolimowski’s
approach is exceptionally frenetic. It is impressive watching him zip around like
a pinball, even though we lose track of the characters not played by the blonde
bombshell Paulina Chapko or the profusely sweating Wojciech Mecwaldowski, who
both have real screen presence as Hellman and her intense husband.
There is some serious
flash and dazzle in 11 Minutes, but
what is most intriguing about the film is the open question whether something cosmically
significant is afoot. The hints are deftly dropped, but the lack of resolution
is frustrating. Still, on a technical level, Skolimowski, cinematographer
Mikolaj Lebkowski, and editor Agnieszka Glinska surpass all the
temporal-tampering indie gimmicks so prevalent in the 1990s and early 2000s. It
almost feels fresh again. Recommended for those looking for style but not
wedded to narrative substance, 11 Minutes
opens this Friday (4/8) at the IFC Center.
Labels: Jerzy Skolimowski, Polish Films