for Cinetalk.net

Montreal’s FNC (Festival du Nouveau Cinema) joins many other festivals this year making the switch to digital in a time of pandemic.

All the screenings are “On Demand”. Choose a perfect time, click play, and enjoy any day, any time during the nearly month-long event. This gives everyone a great opportunity to see many more films than at a traditional movie-going venue. Cinetalk will be sharing our favorite picks, so stay tuned for advice if you’re not sure what to see.

To start things just right, we’d like to call attention to the Vietnamese film, Drowsy City. Luong Dinh Dung (together with his Art Director, Tran Ngoc Son, and two Directors of Photography, Pham Van Khue and Chaiyapruek Bank Chalermpornpanit), has created a murky, almost dream-like atmosphere, and interspersed it with overhead crane shots and outdoor sequences. Taken in bits and pieces, the dim interiors and rainy alleyways tell a certain story many viewers might squirm through. It’s a tough watch. However, like the crane shots peering down on the city, there is a bigger picture at play.

A young chicken slaughterman appears to be the neighborhood’s laughing stock. Yet his rude regulars continue to engage his services. He takes their abuse with a poker face, and continues his tasks. He often seeks solace under the driving rain or in his portable bathtub, but one might wonder why he never speaks up for himself. On the occasion of some obnoxious hoodlums taking up refuge next door, the slaughterman eventually speaks his mind. But action speaks much, much louder than any words he might utter.

The old saying goes Revenge is a dish best served cold. In this case, it is best served slowly, quietly. Well macerated, as the FNC website describes it. At FNC 2016, Cinetalk reviewed KFC. We are starting to wonder how much pent-up anger and animosity might be lurking in Vietnam. Both films have some gory shock value, and violence between humans is a common thread.

The hints of red in the rooftops, the rusted gutters, the street art and even some of the foliage has the subtle effect of training our eyes to see the color, red. This is the slaughterman’s “character color” if we can name it that. Blood is everywhere in his lifestyle. Red is certainly his symbolic hue. The reds in the periphery of his neighborhood bolster the finer details of the conflict within his specific building. The tension between characters might appear asinine, but such is the world we live in these days. 2020 has shown us that indeed many people only know how to abuse those deemed weaker or less worthy than themselves. One can’t not feel the slaughterman’s helplessness. His revenge is imminent even from the first 20 minutes of the film, but how he enacts his revenge is what’s worth waiting for.

 

Drowsy City On Demand October 7th – 31st, 2020

https://nouveaucinema.ca/