Monday, 9 May 2011

Cinema 16: #4. Attack On The Bakery (Naoto Yamakawa, 1982) / Two Cars, One Night (Taika Waititi, 2003)

Attack On The Bakery (Naoto Yamakawa, 1982)
Loosely adapted from the short story 'The Second Bakery Attack' by Haruki Murakami, Attack On The Bakery is a film so weighty and vain it may as well be propaganda. Two 'existentially hungry' labourers decide to rob a Communist bakery. A woman stands, pondering over doughnuts, melon cake and croissants. Our two thieves analyze her choices, and my head began to hurt from the thematic battering. The characters talk to each other in snippets from Philosophy 101 and condescend the audience with a jesting narration on their attack, lecturing us on their motives. The film's existential plight is more than a little heavy-handed, even taking irony into account, and I was left underwhelmed but annoyed by its pretensions. It's technically unimpressive too, expressing very little through camerawork or editing, which are both very rough around the edges. It's not an ugly film, nor is it pretty, but the lead performances are fairly solid. On paper the idea is an interesting one, and has potential for some darkly comic satire. But Attack On The Bakery is a overbearing and clumsy bore, aggressive in its message and passive in its style. A real disappointment.

Two Cars, One Night (Taika Waititi, 2003)
Two Cars, One Night is a beautiful film; innocent and delicate, like youth itself. It has the visual poetry of a constellation, opening on rolling clouds as the camera pans through the serene sky to land at a car, parked in front of a pub. Time flies as headlights illuminate rare beauty in the nighttime, and fire from the butt of a cigarette being passed around a group of friends leaves a signature on their conversation; the pattern lingering like a work of art. In the car are two boys, one frustratedly fidgeting, the other contentedly reading a book. Soon another car pulls up, and left behind in it is a young girl, slightly older than the boys. At first, in simple shot-reverse-shot, the kids antagonize each other, shouting insults and swearing. Soon the older boy approaches the girl and they begin to talk. The acting is pretty terrible, truth be told, and I found much of the dialogue grating, but Two Cars, One Night is a technically accomplished work, and at 11 minutes can be enjoyed on a purely technical level. The black and white cinematography, by Adam Clark, is stunning, and the floaty score lends the film a lovely dreamlike atmosphere. The direction is smooth and stylish and the final shot, of the boy stood in the loneliness of the car park, is suitably evocative. Recommended.

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