Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Love Affair of Sorts

MPAA (NR) CNS/USCCB () Roger Ebert (1 ½ stars) Fr. Dennis (3 stars)

IMDb listing -
Rober Ebert’s Review -
AV Club Review -,57974/

A Love Affair of Sorts (directed by David Guy Levi and story by him and Lili Bordán both of whom also starred in the movie) is an experimental film that recently played at Facets Multimedia here in Chicago.   I became intrigued by the film when I read its listing on Facets' website promising that the movie was the first to be filmed in its entirety using cheap commercially available “flip" cameras.  Last year, I saw such cameras on sale at a Walmart.

A number of the reviewers have since panned the movie -- The youth oriented AV Club (the “serious side” of The Onion newspaper) gave the movie a D+ – but that did not dissuade me from taking a stab at seeing the film, and it proved to be a generally good decision to have taken the chance.

I have been a long-time booster of youth oriented/inspired, low-budget ingenuity – As a teen I loved Han Solo’s “Millenium Falcon” from Star Wars and I have generally squeezed every ounce of creative capacity out of any computer or item of consumer electronics that I have ever bought since.  As a young adult in the 1980s, I loved the Macgyver series.  In the 1990s, not long after I bought a Sony Handycam, I was more than impressed with what the makers of Blair Witch Project did with cameras basically of the same quality.  I enjoyed the premise of the recent movie Super-8, which was a nostalgic look back amateur film-making using Super 8 film cameras, that I knew well when I was a kid.  Finally, I was very impressed by the low budget creativity shown by the makers of Paranormal Activity I (and II, which I reviewed early in this blog).  I’ve also done my own “filming” in recent years of “waves,”  “fog” or “snow on Lake Michigan” or “autumn leaves in a forest preserve” using nothing more than the “movie option” on a low-end pocket digital camera.  So I was more than intrigued this movie’s technical challenge.  

I also think that I “got” (understood) the film’s premise as well:  Two “regular people” “meet” and decide to do a film project together, documenting their lives during the (Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year’s) Holiday season in 2009.  A _key twist_ in the story presented itself in the middle of the film, when it is revealed that _one_ of the two “regular people,” a “Hungarian au pair” named Enci (the other being the film’s director David), is actually being played by an actress (Lili Bordán).   So this “documentary” about "two regular people during the Holidays" turns out to _not_ be a documentary after all.

I thought the premise was awesome and actually quite important for people to realize – Just because something appears to “regular” / “common” etc, does not mean that it is not _staged_.  In this regard, A Love Affair of Sorts becomes a low-budget “regular people’s” rendition of the movie Wag the Dog, a very important (and arguably prophetic) movie of from the Clinton era, which also noted that in the media age everything, _even wars_, can be “staged.”

Finally, the film dealt with quite well (in that it was able to avoid) what one would expect to be a definite pitfall in this kind of amateur film-making (and a pitfall that would make PARENTS of teens understandably very nervous): Given “two people and couple of flip cameras” trying to “tell the story of a Holiday season together,” an “amateur film” of this sort, could have _easily_ fallen into the realm of porn.  To their credit, both the protagonists in the film (who were _also_ the film’s makers) were professional enough to not let the film collapse in that direction.  However, as one watches this film, one _could imagine_ how easily the film could have gone that way.  (It is also clear that the two protagonists/film-makers were aware of the boundary because _they did flirt with it_ -- the movie's called A Love Affair of Sorts, after all --  but they clearly recognized that they had a far better/more compelling movie if they didn't cross the line).

As such, while I would recommend this movie to _college aged young adults and above_, I would _not_ recommend this movie to teens or else _only_ with caution. I write this because it is _so easy_ to imagine a group of initially well-meaning teens to screw-up an “amateur film project” of this sort that they conceived themselves and end-up on all kinds of trouble.

Seriously, teens if you pick-up a camera, be very, very careful, because _if you screw-up_ and film something inappropriate _you_ could literally end up in jail (and on a sex offender list) with _your_ life ruined.

But if you’re a _young adult_ (already over 18) and make it a point to _work only with adults_ (and avoid the _cheesiness_ of porn) you could actually end up producing some really good stuff.  Indeed, a whole bunch of professional film-makers, from Martin Scorcese on down have _long said_ that the future of film is more what one sees on YouTube than what one sees at the theatre.

So with those words of caution, I have to say that I enjoyed the creativity of this film and I hope continue to _generally_ be a booster of such creativity in the future.

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