Monday, 28 July 2014
Fish and Cat: Frequently Asked Questions.
Q: What the fuck did I just watch?
A: Chances are, probably not Fish and Cat, because this film hasn't received much of a release anywhere.
Q: Oh. Well. What's it about then?
A: It's an Iranian film loosely inspired by the story of a restaurant that sold dishes made from human flesh. The whole film is shot in a single take, and it weaves back and forth through time around a lake, where a pair of serial killers stalk a bunch of university students.
Q: It sounds like a horror movie.
A: It's not. It's a very, very slow film with almost no blood in it at all. There are only a few scenes that could actually be described as 'tense' and they all lead up to diddly-squat.
Q: Wait, what do you mean it goes back and forth in time?
A: It's kinda hard to explain. The film will follow Character A for a bit, watching them interact with Character B, and then will follow Character B, who will interact with Character C, and will then follow Character C as they walk back around to Character A, where we will see Character A and B interact again in exactly the same way as when we first saw them, only this time we view it from a different perspective. It's a fluid way of allowing the movie to jump back to the past without an edit and the first few times you see it, it's genuinely impressive. After that though, it gets pretty dull.
Basically, it's a time travel movie, but you as the audience are the time travellers, no one else.
Q: Is the time travel the only weird thing in there?
A: Nope. There's also a pair of demented twins who speak in riddles; a random group of musicians who appear in the middle of the forest and play a jaunty song while a murder is taking place; a dead pianist; and a woman that speaks to an angel that only the woman and us can see.
Q: Christ. That sounds pretty quirky. Is it funny too?
A: Not really. There are a few lines that elicit a giggle, but mostly it's just slooow. The whole film is meant to be a meditation on death, mortality and the past, so for most of its running time its bogged down in dialogue that sounds like it was torn from a Philosophy Textbook. This dialogue is interspersed with deliberately banal conversation about kites and music to change the flow a bit, and I guess to garner a laugh, but the cinema I saw this film in was largely silent (and rapidly began to empty.)
Q: Oh. So it's not worth checking out?
A: No. I mean, it's a very ambitious movie, and it is genuinely impressive the way they filmed the thing in one long take - particularly given that as the movie ducks back into the past, actors are forced to perform the same scene twice (or sometimes three or four times) in exactly the same way. The ideas are interesting too - the whole film promotes the line of thought that the past may be occurring simultaneously (or at least indistinguishably) to the present, which is a cool theory when you think about it. But the film is just boring.
It's one of those ideas that is not as good in execution as it is in theory. I mean, there's almost no reason to actually sit through Fish and Cat. Just consider this sentence instead: the past is an imaginary object. That's pretty much the point of the whole movie, and by reading that sentence you've saved yourself almost two hours of a camera following two guys walking through the woods as they spend a lot of time and energy not speaking.
I guess I'm pleased that this movie exists, because it is an experiment in trying something new, but it's worth remembering that experiments often fail. The only way you ever get to move forward is by learning from your mistakes, which means you've got to fuck up once in a while. That's fine. I just kinda wish I didn't sit through two hours of a fuck up.