Boy, chatting with fellow attendees of the Sarasota Film Festival can really make you feel like a slacker. “How many movies have you seen?” someone will casually ask, and when you tell them, they say, “Really? I’ve seen this one, that one, the other”—etc. I can’t wait for retirement so I can spend more time in darkened movie theaters.
In the meantime, I have managed to see a couple of movies in the last few days in between work and life obligations. The first, Brother and Sister, was from Argentinean director Daniel Burman, and it’s a comedy (with some dramatic overtones) about Marcos (Antonio Gasalla), an aging, gay and lonely man who’s spent the greater part of his adult life taking care of his mama; and his sister, Susana (Graciela Borges), a grasping, bossy, frequently deceitful woman who’s willing to take advantage of him at every turn. When Mama dies and Susana manipulates Marcos into moving to a house she’s acquired in Uruguay, things start to change; Marcos finds new friends in some fellow theater enthusiasts, and the shift of control in their relationship drives Susana to a point that just could sever their ties forever. I’m not sure if this movie will come to local theaters again or not, so I hope I’m not spoiling anything for you if I say the ending is ultimately hopeful.
Another foreign film, this one French, I know will be coming to an arthouse near you (because it stars Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu). It’s about a power struggle, too, but it’s told in much more escapist, glossy terms. Potiche is the name of the film; that word apparently means trophy housewife, and that’s the role Deneuve plays at the outset. She jogs, she communes with nature, she writes poems, and she tries to deal gracefully with the fact that her husband (Fabrice Luchini) is a philandering, domineering, disrespectful chauvinist.
Here again, tables turn as the husband suffers a medical emergency that withdraws him from the work scene just as a critical moment arrives in the battle between management and strikers at the umbrella factory the couple owns. Suddenly the heretofore sheltered wife has to step in; fortunately, she has a way of dealing with the local labor leader (Depardieu) that’s all her own, and very effective. But will she stay in power once the husband recovers, or be forced back into her subordinate role? It’s all pretty fluffy and light, but when it’s told with this fine French cast, that’s going to be fine with most viewers.
I also wandered in to the Cinema Tropicale party, held at the Sarasota Yacht Club. I missed this one last year, so I was curious to see the yacht club’s various venues (pool area, inside bar, waterfront dock) and how they were transformed for this island-themed evening. The weather couldn’t have cooperated more; it was a perfectly pleasant evening of music, bites including pork carnitas, grouper escabeche salad and bananas Foster, and the chance to mingle with fellow film lovers—which brings me back to the beginning. “How many films have you seen?” Post a comment about your festival experiences below.