I was afraid of Day 2 because I would be on the stage as one of panelists for the first movie of that day, “Munyurangabo”, directed by Issac Chung, Korean-American director from Arkansas. The morning started very comfortably like the last meal before the execution. We met Roger and Chaz again in General Lounge on the 2nd floor of Illini Union, and we also had the chance to meet other people including Troylene Ladner, Carol, Randy Master, Michael Phillips, Vincent(he changed the clothe again… how many suits did he bring here?), and members of Ebert clubs. One of them, Sean, brought DVD of TV series “Firefly” for Roger, but Carol told me that Roger rarely watched DVDs brought by others with few exceptions. It’s like a lottery, I guess.
The mood became more warm with Mr. and Mrs. Valero’s present to Roger. It was the illustration of young Roger and his father based on the photo and it was drawn by Mrs. Valero. In addition, a three-month-old baby conceived during Ebertfest in last year was greeted by many of us. Meanwhile, the local newspaper reporter approached us and I emphasized that I’m “definitely amateur”. I’m a still a child compared to others.
I wondered whether people thought like that during the discussion panel on “Munyurangabo”, which was simple but deeply moving film about two boys in Rwanda. Issac Chung, a Korean-American director, made this movie as the part of education for local students when he taught movies in Rwanda. It was shot in two weeks(one actor had to be replaced after 4 days) and some technical limitations can be glimpsed, but the movie has a quiet, meditative power that clearly proves Chung’s talent.
With machete at the opening sequence, the tension is slowly built while we are getting to know about two boys, Sangwa(Eric Ndorunkundiye) and Ngabo(Jeff Rutagengwa). We don’t know the difference, but local people can tell it even if it does not come out of the mouth. When they drop by Sangwa’s home, Sangwa’s father asked his son about that later. Sangwa has to make a choice and so does Ngabo. The movie does not make a speech, but we clearly begin to see the painful past of this country through their story with natural, documentary-like depiction of rural area. And all about Rwanda is compressed into a sudden appearance of passionate poem near the end. It is the showstopper of the movie(I don’t know whether that word is appropriate for this quiet movie).
Yesterday, I checked the website and Q & A clip for “Munyurangabo” was only 4:30 without any sound. Therefore, I could not confirm how bad I had been. I only made two remarks, and Issac Chung, co-producer and co-writer Samuel Anderson, co-producer Jenny Lund and Omar took the helm. I have to admit that I was too passive. The catastrophe didn’t happen. We discussed about possible homosexual relationship between two boys(no, no, it’s more close to bromance). Issac said the men from Korean culture were shy of physical touching and I responded with body language and everyone laughed.
Sweet ordeal was over thanks to others’ support, and we moved to the next movie, Michael Tolkin’s “The New Age”. It’s about a Yuppie couple, Peter and Katherine, who loses their job along with their social positions and tries to search for new haven through these new age stuffs. To outsiders like me, they are alien and distant materials I could not care much. Plus, main characters are unlikable and hallow.
But in case of their situation, I understood it well just like other American audience. Having seen so many desperate SOSs from the buildings of Chicago, I knew well that real estate business was screwed thanks to these greedy banks. At one point, Katherine explained about the situation and everyone cheered and clapped. The exactly same thing is happening around US with bigger scale.
Overall, it’s a little boring but engaging enough to be recommended. Peter Weller and Judy Davis has already played another hollow couple in David Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch”, and their chemistry in this movie is, again, impeccable. Maybe Peter and Katherine are unlikeable, but they are witty and serious. They are open about their relationship. They are not suddenly mad about that even when they are in deep trouble. There are funny performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Patrick Bauchau, and people loved that.
The Dinner place was Green Room of Spring Cultural Center, one block north of Virginia Theater. I met Jim Emerson(his tatoo on the right wrist was immediately linked to some tattoo removal ad in Ebertfest leaflet in my head) and had some talk with him about his website while walking to the building. During dinner, I briefly talked with Issac Chung as an immature critic and a gifted director. We both made our parents disappointed by getting interested in movies.
Barbet Schroeder, the director of “Barfly”, luckily came across the Atlantic Ocean despite unfortunate volcano ash. And Charlie Kauffman was there, too. I’ll never forget Schroeder for giving me a wrong clue about the name of the movie he could not remember. I pointed out to him that it is “Basic Instinct”, not “Fatal Attraction”, that was made by the director who made that awful film about Las Vegas.
Charlie Kauffman was far different from Charlie or Donald of “Adaptation”. He patiently listened to my thoughts about his masterpiece(“Synecdoche, New York) as well as the reactions from Korean reviewers when the movie was released in this January. Then we talked about the books by Joseph Heller and Patricia Highsmith and others. I tried to explain him how Beckett’s “Endgame” reminded me of “Synecdoche, New York”.
As usual, the time went fast, and it was the time for “Apocalypse Now – Redux”. “Apocalypse Wow” can be a good title for this gigantic movie. I watched this version in 2001 at local theater before, I felt it was a little too long. We all agreed with that after watching it. We can live without those two main additional sequences. I think Coppola added legs to the snake on the great painting.
Fortunately, the canvas is large enough to forgive that. And we know well that how excruciating it was for Coppola and his crews to make this masterpiece. In this ambitious movie, there are many striking sequences besides the one of the great sequences in the movie history. This time, the bridge sequence came to me the most closely. It embodies the title of the movie. It looks like a crazy carnival with lots of lights and smokes and explosions. Remember, the movie was made before the era of CGI.
We were exhausted but enlivened by following Q & A with David Bordwell, Ali, and Michael Philips. Our night was ended with another visit to Stake ‘N Shake, and I was delighted to meet people younger me, who may be more passionate than us. I had an interesting discussion on “A Clockwork Orange” with a 15-year-boy named Jackson. I later found that he could drive a car. I still can’t drive a car.