Thursday, December 02, 2004

Before Sunset

I had this great post written... then blogger ate it! Fuckers. Now I'll have to rewrite this very fast due to time constraints. I'm sure I'm leaving things out.

I watched another flick with Briana yesterday. It's become a routine of ours. Since we're both perpetually unemployed, it's cool to hang out in the city on lazy afternoons and putz around. I've been catching up on a lot of films I've been wanting to see but was too cheap to pay $12 to see a flick in a theatre in NYC.

Before Sunset was directed by Richard Linklater. He's the mind behind some of my favorite films (School of Rock, Dazed & Confused, A Waking Life, Before Sunrise, Slacker) and he's slated to direct the remake of The Bad News Bears, one of my favorite films from my childhood. I guess you can call Before Sunset a sequel, although it's not your typical Hollyweird sequel which was churned out by the greedy studios to capitalize on the monetary success of the first film. These films take place nine years apart and the first one never made any amount of significant money, although it generated a cult following. Both main characters briefly appeared in a scene from A Waking Life and it was obvious that Linklater liked them so much he wanted to use them over and over. I have plenty of characters that I created which I am fond of. Ivan the Russian Cab driver is one such instance. He's appeared in several of my manuscripts, short stories, and in both screenplays!

The story in the first film Before Sunrise was simple. A young American (Ethan Hawke) meets a young French girl on a train in Europe and they spend one night in Vienna together. When I saw that flick 8 years ago, I quickly fell in love with French actress Julie Delpy and admired the way in which Linklater told his story both visually and with his intense dialogue. The story behind the second film is also somewhat simple. Nine years have passed and the two meet up in Paris. The American is a famous novelist on a book tour (in which he subsequently wrote about that one night in Vienna with the French girl) and he spends an afternoon catching up with the girl who got away when she magically shows up at his last book signing in Paris. Since almost a decade has passed, the actors have grown a little older, something you can easily compare with the random clips from the first film thrown in from time to time. But they still have that spark.

Linklater's films (er, screenplays) are heavily dialogue based. He has an amazing knack to cover a multitude of topics in a causal conversation; briefly touching on politics, psychology, philosophy, pop culture, and art. On this script both the actors and Linklater shared screenwriting credits. He allowed the actors to write some of their own scenes. That's trust. I put Linklater up there with my favorite group of screenwriters which include himself, Woody Allen and David Mamet.

Was it a great sequel? I didn't have high expectations, so I was pleased. The film was shot in Paris (in 15 days!) which was cool to have various Parisian landmarks in the backdrop. All those visuals made me want to go check out Paris even more. I got the sense that both characters were not too pleased with their lives (who in their early 30s is fully content?) and both secretly asked the question "What if I did XYZ differently?" Although Jesse (Hawke) is a successful writer, his marriage is shaky. You get the impression he isn't all that pleased with how his life turned out. Although Celine (Delpy) has a great career as a political activist and songwriter, she lacks passion and emotion in her everyday life. Both characters seemed to be clinging onto a romanticized notion of the one night they spent together nine years earlier and the failures in their immediate lives come to light after they see each other for the first time in nine years.

The past is a son of a bitch to let go. I've learned that if you don't let some things go... they'll eat you up inside and you'll rot away.

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