mid-century maunderings for men who know better
Each MIFF, the advertisements before the films are always the same. After only a few sessions they grow tedious. Depending on which cinema, they can be deafening. I relieve the tedium with noise-cancelling headphones. I still have to watch but at least I can choose what I hear. Thing is, I like ads. Good ads are wonderful. Not only do they sell the product but engage the viewer with all kinds of sorties on the emotions. Bad ads get worse and worse. Watching the same bad ads five times a day for seventeen days straight is not going to help the advertisers and will probably ensure a subliminal hostility in the consumer toward the product.
Wander Victoria is a campaign designed to get you out and spending in Rural, Regional and Remote Victoria. We get to hear a pair of white, middle-aged, middle-class, badly-dressed men speak utter drivel to each other while walking around the countryside. Well-fed, they desert a brace of slender, younger, (practically) silent women to walk off their luncheon. The editing makes it appear as if they have traversed the state in a couple of minutes. The vistas are spectacular. However, I am displeased with the assumption that two men, who look like they never take the stairs, who have nothing interesting to say, are chosen to represent a Victorian tourist campaign. Don’t women walk or talk, or spend? Are men still the decision makers when it comes to how families and couples spend their leisure time? Casting these men is a conspicuously atavistic decision that results in an advertisement that is limited in its scope and vision. Ironic, don’t you think?
Turns out there is a second ad. Two women! walking! talking! swinging their arms! AND they are of different ethnicities! Of course they are thin and attractive, and younger than their husky counterparts. What did you expect!!? PLUS they meet other walkers and are friendly to them. Because women are, you know…nurturing and good at relationships. This ad is half the length of the original. AND a quick look at YouTube shows a veritable cornucopia of ads featuring our two chunky mates. One minute of screen time for the two women versus six for the men. Seems about right, don’t you think?
Laura is a lawyer with the patience of Job. Her client is a pest, deserving, but a pest nonetheless. She has to rescue him from an ill-conceived situation that the bumbling police are too lazy and inept to deal with. She’s having an affair with a man who is married to Gina, a really nice woman whose mean daughter likes her philandering husband better. He grinds Gina down in small little ways. Jamie works on a ranch by herself looking after horses. She is lonely and stumbles across a night class in town. She tries to make friends with Beth, the young instructor but it doesn’t take. I was reminded of Raymond Carver’s stories when this film started. It is set in rural Montana. You get the sense that if anything good that happens to these characters, it will get ruined soon enough. These women hold something in reserve for themselves. Whether relationships, work or day to day life; all is struggle. Everything about this film is great.
Yukie behaves like a spoiled feckless teenager. Her two main suitors are university students. One opposes militarism and the other is ambivalent. Set in pre- and post- WWII Japan, the film follows Yukie as she leaves home and moves to the city, marries Noge, and eventually moves in with his family to begin a new life as a peasant, thus redeeming herself from her butterfly like existence. It is a surprise to see a film depicting popular resistance against the Japanese Imperial expansion in the 1930s. Spirited performances and a strong story enhance the enjoyment of this period piece. A clean, restored print would make it even better!