Monday, April 01, 2019

The Other Night I Drifted Nice

While not quite on the same uncanny-quaking spectrum as Jordan Peele's Us the coincidences and strange doings do pile up in Lucio Castro's marvelously elliptical art-house romance End of the Century -- these two films are unnatural bed-fellows, besides the happenstance of the time and place they were seen (in early 2019, by me, in America), but seeing as how Century is about unnatural making natural and then unnatural and then somewhere in between its own bedfellows, well, it's a good jumping off point anyway.

Ocho (Juan Barberini) goes by a nickname, we learn halfway through the film, one that stuck. His real name doesn't fit him anyway, says his newfound admirer Javi (Ramon Pujol), as he tries to Rumpelstiltskin up a more apt one for him. But no, none seem as right as Ocho does. And without getting too into the weeds and precious about our symbolism "Ocho" means "Eight" and "Eight," far from Enough, equals "Infinity." Literally -- it is the lemniscate toppled over, the infinite seen sideways -- the top and the bottom, here in all its explicit double entendre, reciprocated.

As Ocho and Javi slip through time, to the time before the end of the century and the time after the end, and then somewhere else altogether, their images -- like those of the characters in Us actually! -- begin to reflect and refract one another. What begins as a random pick-up reveals itself as a reunion -- a retold memory turns into a dream; we lose our footing, unmoored in sensation, remembrance, the slapping of skin and sweat and the vague tickle at the top of our throats that we've done and tasted this all before.

As the timelines disintegrate writer-director Castro doesn't re-cast, younger and older bodies -- these are the same people, the same actors, just re-sorted, re-folded; an understanding of selfhood stretched across time. They want children, they don't want children, they have children -- Javi marvels at the thought of twenty years with one person and then twenty whole years is gone, evaporated, snuffed out like a cigarette nobody's smoking on a balcony where they first found one another, for the second time. One day you're here and the next a garbage truck runs you over, leaving behind a pile of CDs.

Perhaps End of the Century felt like the windfall of kismet, coincidence, to me too, as I sat there in the audience watching it on the precipice of my own 20th year with someone -- perhaps I intermingled my two-decades thing hard up in this two-decades thing there on the screen, like one does in the best of cinematic circumstances. But the film earned it, on more than circumstance -- the film knows and more than knows, expresses, what its like to spend half your life with someone; never actually someone else, always actually alone, but as close to such disintegration as is actually humanly possible. More than you finish each other's sentences -- you don't even need to speak. A kiss, physical or four letters stamped plainly across a shirt, summons up forever, and undoes it just as fast.

End of the Century just had its world premiere
at the New Directors New Films series here in NYC 

1 comment:

par3182 said...