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Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
A Japanese tourist takes refuge from a rainstorm inside a once-popular movie theater, a decrepit old barn of a cinema that is screening a martial arts classic, King Hu's 1966 "Dragon Inn." Even with the rain bucketing down outside, it doesn't pull much of an audience -- and some of those who have turned up are less interested in the movie than in the possibility of meeting a stranger in the dark. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The first line of dialogue appears 40 minutes into the film. See more »
Do you know this theater is haunted?
This theater is haunted.
[calling out to departing man]
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Seeing this as part of the London Film Festival I had few expectations of the movie and was initially pleased to see the large cinema was a almost a sell-out. However, by the end of this 82 minute feature approximately a quarter of the audience had walked out and to be honest I am surprised that so many remained. Bravely, the film appears to ignore most conventions for film-making; dialogue, narrative and character development are rarely in evidence. The long still shots and selective use of sound (focusing primarily on footsteps and 'small' sounds from within the scene) created an eerie atmosphere but the film's content failed to capitalise on this platform to generate further interest in the characters or development of the themes.
Other films and directors (Tarkovsky) have created genuinely unique movies which have required significant commitment from the audience. However, on this occasion the director strays too far, the film demands too much from the viewer and offers scant return for this time. It reminded me of the experience of seeing a Russian film of the early 90s, The Stone (dir Sokurov), both these films require significant concentration and commitment from their viewers yet for me they both signify the excesses of arthouse cinema.
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