Saturday, July 6, 2013
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty 
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty  (written and directed by African American director Terrence Nance) is an experimental film about relationships that played recently at Facets multimedia in Chicago. The concept is actually very simple and funny and is built around a short film that he had made earlier called How Would You Feel? .
The concept goes as follows. During the opening credits, we observe a young African American man lugging onto the subway a couple of constituent parts of what we soon find would become a bed. Since he lives in New York and seems to be living something of a bohemian/artistic lifestyle and has no car, this is how he has to bring things to his rather small, again rather bohemian style flat -- by himself and in parts. No problem, like Figaro, he's putting together a bed. Why? Well, we're told by the narrator (who proves to be very important in this film) that earlier in the day, he had gotten a message from a young woman who he's enjoyed company with that she'd be available to come over see him later that evening. From the looks of it, it would seem that whatever his hopes may have been for the evening, that he'd probably not bed together in time anyway. Nevertheless, when he comes home with those two rather larger constituent parts of what would soon (or at least one day...) become bed, he receives a message from this young woman of interest that she too had just arrived home after a long day of work and has decided not to come over to enjoy his company that evening after all. At that point, the narrator asks the audience: "How would you feel?"
At that point, we see someone hitting the stop button on a VCR and then the rewind button. And the story starts over again. And we're given some more information, notably that said young African American man, artistic type had gotten up rather late to go to work, that having taken some shorts with his daily morning routine, and running the last part of his way to work, he did manage to make it to work on time. We're then informed that he received the happy message from his young woman of interest informing him that after work she'd like to come over to his place to enjoy his company (hence his desire to leave work to quickly try to put together a bed) only to find out that when he did come home that he received another message from said woman of interest that she too had come home after a long day of work and had decided to not come over that evening after all. And we're asked once more: "Given all that you now know would you feel?"
Once again, we're shown the stop button on the VCR being hit, the rewind button being hit. And the story starting over once more. This time we're told the same sequence as before, his getting up relatively late to get to work, his rush to get out of his flat and to work that morning. Only now we're shown what he actually does for work: He actually simply plays a musical instrument of sorts, alone, by a fountain in some park somewhere in New York. (Perhaps there still was a need to rush to get there by a certain time, but it doesn't feel anymore like a "real job" ... yet this is, actually, how he makes his money). The rest of the narrative sequence continues (the young woman of interest first calls him that she'd like to come over after work, then calls him after work that she's had a long day and has decided not to come over after all. And we're asked once more: "Given all that you know, how would you feel?"
The story repeats itself about three of four more times, each time adding some new aspect to the story, each time arguably changing how one feels about the story and its two central characters.
I just thought that it was a blast ;-). This is clearly not a film "for everyone" ;-), but I just loved its humor and found it similarly amusing that good ole Facets Multimedia theater, small as it is, was actually quite packed mostly with young African American women who similarly smiled, giggled and laughed throughout most of the film.
Anyway, the film is a reminder to us of how simple yet effective a story, even a screen story can be ;-).
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