May 17th: Cria Cuervos
This movie is haunting me. You know how people say that a piece of music is “haunting” and they kind of mean that it’s morose, dark, and a little jarring? Cria Cuervos definitely embodies those moods, but it’s also haunting because I can’t stop thinking about it.
The film expresses my sentiments about the “evil child” genre perfectly, but it’s not quite a horror film. Nothing frightening happens, and yet its main character, Ana, is living in a death-obsessed world, believing she holds the power to off anyone she wants at any time. Rather than scaring her, she exercises this belief by putting what she thinks is poison in family members’ drinks. We think that children are so innocent, that they are more spiritual and trusting, that they have a larger capacity for love. But perhaps that innocence is more like a dangerous naivete. Childhood is almost as unknown to us as death. We only have the capacity to remember through our experience, so the trust and faith we had as children is lost to us now. Children can be an Other just as alien to us as…well, aliens. Or monsters or ghosts. Cria Cuervos narrates the views of a child obsessed with death, and attempts – rather successfully, I think – to recreate those naive memories.
In the end, when Ana discovers she isn’t in possession of a dangerous poison, we feel relieved. No child should have that kind of power. But, from the view of 8-year-old Ana, we also feel a little disappointed. This is the one thing she believes she has control of. How much control she really has over her violent actions is debatable, however, as the violence of the Franco regime is passed on from father to daughter. Her lack of understanding about herself is the most frightening thing of all.
May 18th: What Time is it There?
I’m loving these Taiwanese films! What Time is it There?, like Yi Yi, explores the loneliness of city life and how big life events (the death of a husband, first kiss, etc.) all end up being remembered alone. This one might be even better than Yi Yi because it has a cameo by Jean-Pierre Leaud, who still looks great.
Each shot of the film is cluttered and noisy, and yet the characters within those shots are still and silent. Though Paris and Taiwan seem to share little in common, both landscapes suffocate while simultaneously isolating. Each character is desperate to share something with someone else, but they all seem to fail. Whether they try through technology, spirituality and superstition, or love, in the end each character is still very much alone.
It’s a depressing concept, but kind of reassuring when you see multiple people suffering from the same sentiments. We’re alone physically, but psychically we’re all connected.