A Big Empty Room

I don't know what it is, but there's something screwed up about Madison and movies.  In the spring, everyone goes crazy for the film festival and a lot of stuff sells out.  People take days off of work and see multiple features in a row.  But during the rest of the year, when something is showing at the Orpheum for a reasonable price, no one is there.  And when I say no one, I'm not being facetious.  Nick and I just went to see Part 1 of Mesrine (based on the life of the French gangster Jacques Mesrine) and we were literally the only people in the theater, which is saying a lot. It might be possible to chalk it up to the protests downtown, but when we walked around right afterward, things had really died down.  (I'm reading now that they voted earlier today to keep the public out of hearing rooms and legislative offices, so that might explain it, or it might have just been winding down for the evening.) 

In any case, the movie was good, though there was a definite feeling that it was only the first half, so it's difficult to say something definitive about it.  The style is slow and sparse, which is an interesting contrast to Mesrine's crazed quest for glory.  It gives the impression that whatever escapades he undertakes are done purely for either the adrenaline rush or for the sake of a general resentment, that he has little interest in material wealth or obvious flashiness, although he is obsessive about the attention he receives from the media.  The film manages to focus fully on Mesrine's character rather than wasting time glorifying or condemning his lifestyle, and Vincent Cassel is really fantastic at drawing the camera without just charming the audience for the sake of it.  

I am very much looking forward to the film festival this year, and the list goes up on March 3rd, so if you're going to be in the area and have interest, I suggest you start preparing for the mad rush.  The best thing I saw at the festival last year was Lourdes, starring Sylvie Testud, which I would highly recommend to anyone who isn't instantly turned off either by the idea of a slower-paced film or of a nuanced focus on faith and religion.

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