here we are again, another day seven. we only have two films left, as different as night and day. up first is dev benegal's road, movie (2010).
in an effort to get out from under his responsibilities to the family hair oil business, restless twentysomething vishnu seizes upon an opportunity to take a cross-country trip to deliver an ancient truck. it is no normal rickety 1942 chevy, as it turns out. it has been outfitted as a mobile cinema. as he makes his way across the indian desert with his celluloid cargo he picks up a trio of travelers - a boy who works at a roadside tea stand, an older gentleman as adept at repairing things as he is at doling out wisdom and a beautiful nomadic woman wandering in search of water. they cross paths with a corrupt, sadistic police office and a ruthless gangster who is in control of all the water in the region, making it out of these scrapes thanks to the magic of the movies and vishnu's father's hair oil, respectively. as in the tales of scheherazade, the quality of the movie they show on a given night is their ticket to surviving and thriving another day. they go forward on faith, finally arriving at the fair they are in search of. in the manner of all great road movies, their travels forge a bond between them that can only dissolve bittersweetly, as all trips must eventually arrive at their destination. i really wanted to like this more than i did. it certainly wasn't bad but it just didn't move me that much, especially considering the subject matter. the desert is definitely beautiful and a roving movie theater or a traveling fair that sprouts out of the dust makes for a magic that is engrossing and entertaining. my problem was with the lack of an arc. for all their traveling, i felt no one really went anywhere. the attempt to generate danger, drama and transformation ultimately only results in something pleasant and mild. the notion of a traveling cinema, though, appeals to me like you wouldn't believe. i want a truck like that one of these days. what a beautiful dream - roaming the highways, going from town to town, stopping somewhere new every night and bringing the wonder of movies into people's lives. this film may not have been all i had hoped but now, when i win the lottery, i certainly know what i am going to do with all that money.
and finally, fittingly, we end with don mckellar's last night (1998).
it chronicles the last few hours in the intersecting lives of a group of people living in toronto who are literally facing the end of the world. an apocalypse, the nature of which is never elaborated upon, is going to culminate at midnight and we follow this disparate bunch of characters as they go through their rituals and prepare to meet oblivion, each in their own way. a family celebrates a christmas that is never going to come, supplies are gathered to complete a farewell dinner/suicide pact, a debut concert is performed, jobs are done right to the end, parties are thrown like it's new year's eve and a sexual marathon is in full swing, checking off every act that can be squeezed in to these final fleeting moments. the lack of mayhem is the most striking thing you immediately notice. the general atmosphere of lawlessness you would expect, while alluded to, stays far in the background. the gravity of the situation seems to have settled something in most of these people. they truly seem acutely aware of the fact that there is no more time to waste. the overall tone is one of resignation and, really, what else would it be? there is no more negotiation to be done. sandra oh is particularly good in this, i thought, determined to go out under her own steam only to see her obstinance ultimately yielding to an end that is richer and more profound. the real power in a film like this, if it's well done, as this one truly is, is reflected in just how many questions you ask yourself in the hours, days and weeks after the credits roll.
where would you want to be at the appointed hour?
whose face is the very last one you want to see?
what phone calls would you have to make?
whose door are you knocking on to consummate those things that have gone years unspoken before it's too late?
most importantly, if you would change everything so drastically, why aren't you living the way you want to right now?
thank you, summer. i can't think of a better place to end things.