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July 22, 2006

a-z tv sub i

This is my first film festival. What a dreamy existence! Wake up, eat
breakfast, buy a towel, go for a swim at local sports complex, get to-go
glasses of beer and catch 11 a.m. screening of Sunset Boulevard
(with Polish subtitles), back to pool for lunch and a swim, then
see Where the Green Ants Dream, delicious grilled
corn on the cob and fried smoked cheese, another
swim, more beer, and then Tarnation--which
made me kind of glad my camera fell out
of Sarah's bag and broke. There is
something sick about living for
(or behind) the camera's
gaze. A funny thing to
realize while at a
film festival.

Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout
and Werner Herzog's Where the
Green Ants Dream
are both movie
dramas about the plight of Australia's
aborigines. (Add Peter Weir's The Last
and you'd have a neat little trilogy.)
Walkabout is about two clueless British kids
who get lost in the outback and have their asses
saved by an adolescent aborigine on his walkabout--
a year-long rite of passage whereby a youth proves him-
self by attaining true self-sufficiency. After long bucolic
wanderings and valuable survival lessons (plus a lot of pervy
camerawork), the kids are "saved" and return to civilization,
demonstrating how people can be doomed by habit--opting for the
familiar instead of taking a chance on that which might set them free.
Herzog's WTGAD is a bit awkward, but that might be part of its charm. The civilized person is an actor playing various roles as demanded by changing situations, so it's fitting that Herzog's white people seem so often stiff, ridiculous, and uncomfortable in their surroundings. After the film, I ate this delicious ear of corn down to a final lone kernel in memory of one of the characters, an aborigine nicknamed The Mute, the last surviving member of his clan. The Mute can talk, but no one is left who understands the language. The scene where he testifies to an uncomprehending courtroom is the film's most affecting moment.