It’s official. The meetings are over, and there’s nothing but movies left to occupy our time. On Thursday, I saw the new Hirokazu Koreeda film, Like Father Like Son. I’ve been a big fan since After Life (1998), and I was honestly looking forward to a beautiful drama and not yet another genre film, just for a change of pace. The story (about two very different families which have to cope with the fact that their sons were switched at birth in the hospital six years prior) was so touching, funny, sad, beautiful and heartbreaking, it was like a perfect balm for my exhausted, frayed emotions.
That was followed up by a major tonal shift when we went to see the US indie Magic Magic, which was an uncomfortable, difficult experience, and a really good film. Sebastián Silva’s simple story of a young woman who mentally unravels on a trip to Chile to visit her cousin managed to sustain a really intense atmosphere of anxiety and dread throughout, and Juno Temple and Michael Cera both gave excellent performances.The latter was so annoying an unlikeable that I was actually really impressed with his willingness to play a role that’s so against his usually loveable type. Although I gather he’s similarly awful/great in Silva’s Crystal Fairy, which I haven’t seen.
In fact, the film made me realize two things which I’d like to rectify. First, I’ve never seen any of Silva’s films. I thought I had, but after looking him up I realized I must have been confusing him with someone else. Second, while I’ve been hearing Juno Temple’s name absolutely everywhere for the past couple of years, she’s actually a black hole in my movie viewing experience. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her in anything, which seems impossible, but after reviewing her filmography I realize that almost every film she’s had a significant role in is one that I’ve somehow inadvertently missed in its festival or theatrical run and sworn to “catch up with later”, but haven’t. Kaboom, Dirty Girl, Killer Joe, The Brass Teapot, you name it. I haven’t seen any of them. I’m not even sure how it’s possible. So, apparently she exists in some kind of opposite world from me. But I thought she was really great in Magic Magic.
In the evening, feeling pretty productive after having seen two films, we decided to take a break from Cannes by going to a convenience store, buying some pasta, sauce, an onion, some lardons and a bottle of red wine (oh, and €20 worth of baklava from the nearby Lebanese joint) and going home to cook dinner and eat it while watching an episode of Breaking Bad in bed. Sometimes you really need a break, y’know?
I realized today that my stress about not having seen enough films actually stems from a deeper place. Every time I’ve come here in the past (a whopping two times, but still), I’ve been “taking time off” from my full time job at REEL CANADA in order to be here. And every time, I’ve felt a certain amount of anxiety about the work I’d left behind. I wanted to make really sure that no balls were dropped in my absence, that nobody would be stuck without an answer, or without some crucial piece of a puzzle being completed in a timely manner. I’ve always checked in via email multiple times in a day and felt nervous about whether I was reachable enough. I’d like to think that I’m just conscientious, but I know that I’m also just a natural worrier when it comes to work, and working in a high-pressure environment (which RC often was, though it was also often fun and rewarding) brings out the worst of my anxious tendencies.
All this is just to say that this year, I’m not taking time off to be here. I’m just here. My position at REEL CANADA is part time and I’ve got no pressing projects at the moment (and the ones I have are under control and trucking along well without me). I’m working on projects (such as the film with Peter Lynch) but I’m not neglecting them while I’m here. In fact, I’m pitching them to people and trying to help get them made. I feel busy (like, really busy), but nothing is out of control, and it feels genuinely weird to not be stretching myself way (way!) too thin for the first time in years. I’m not anxious because I haven’t seen enough films. I’m anxious because I feel like I should be anxious about something and it freaks me out that I might actually have shit under control.
Or maybe I’m just feeling better because I saw two good films.