Notes From Hairenik
Although in my previous post I harshly criticized the first screening of the Golden Apricot International Festival that I saw and I stand by my words, I cannot discount the high quality of films that are being screened. A few years ago I was also impressed (last year I most regrettably could not manage to see very many films due to work scheduling conflicts) with the fact that I was finally able to appreciate film in a land where Hollywood blockbusters as well as mindless drivel being shown in theaters are virtually always dubbed in Russian, the lack of fluency in which is my handicap. Two nights ago I was lucky enough with a good friend to sneak into a by invitation only screening of Michelangelo Antonioni's Beyond the Clouds from 1995. The film was introduced by his longtime muse (I forgot her name as nearly I always do) who mentioned that the Italian neorealist director traveled to Armenia at one point during his life, something I never knew. In any case, the film was screened using a very good print, and the beautiful thing about the experience was that it was legibly subtitled simultaneously in English and Armenian by some kind of projection system.

Last night, I went to see a film called Silent Light where I lasted for nearly 10 minutes before I walked out from sheer boredom to catch the film by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, Youth For Youth, being shown in the adjacent theater at the Moscow Cinema. The first film was also subtitled in two languages, Armenian and some other unidentifiable one, while the Coppola film which was naturally in English was subtitled in Russian, an interesting, yet welcome change. This means that it is practically impossible to know what you are going to get when you go to see a film during the festival in terms of being confronted with a bad live translation or the preferred standard, subtitles. Luckily I have had to suffer through a translation on only one occasion thus far.

Slient Light I am sure is a fine film but the scenes were too long and boring to be quite honest as they seemed to have been shot in real-time, and I knew that after sitting there for five minutes I would not be able to put up with the slow pace of it. Youth For Youth, starring Tim Roth in perhaps the best role I have seen him in since Reservoir Dogs, the superb German actor Bruno Ganz of Wings of Desire fame, and Alexandra Maria Lara, is a Dorian Gray-esque film about a linguist named Dominic Matei who has a natural gift of learning languages, no matter how ancient, fluently in a matter of days or even moments and who does not seem to age past 40 years for some reason. He meets his match, a young woman, who swoons into past lives uncontrollably and chants lines of text in languages no longer spoken. Despite her fascinating trace-like delves into the past she begins to age before Dominic's eyes and he is compelled to leave her so she can restore her youth and thus her life. In the end his metaphysical powers to escape old age and the dexterity to manipulate physical as well as mental abilities of others on a whim catch up with him when he destroys his antihero doppelganger who pops up from time to time and annoyingly contradicts his thoughts. The theater was packed beyond capacity and I ended up having to stand or kneel the whole time, although rather happily. It was a great movie, and I hope to catch the first 4o minutes which I missed if I am able to find the DVD here. It is a highly recommended film.