Friday, February 16, 2007

Eve and the Firehorse

Thursday night D and I bought two memberships to the local film society. This gives us access to weekly films at the theatre for a discounted price (although I didn't see a non-member price listed) and perhaps we get the occasional newsletter or something if we ask for it. It's all very exciting. I've been missing the luxury of being able to walk to my local theatre and see independently made films, or go to a place like camera and see some classic horror films as julia and I did occasionally. In this small corner of whoville, the accessibility to such films seemed unlikely because apparently if it isn't playing at Silvercity, it's not worth seeing.

When I saw the poster for a film festival here in whoville I thought, "wow, this is a great chance to see something a little more interesting and in a film festival friendly crowd." Eve and the Firehorse was playing and I have wanted to see this film ever since I heard the filmmaker interviewed on CBC. I heard the filmmaker mention that Lea Pool was on set and I swooned at that (if you haven't seen Emporte-moi you should).

D. and I walked down to the theatre at the town centre and managed to get tickets. It was good to see a full house for the film. The ticket seller said there was free popcorn freshly popped, but we'd have to hurry because we couldn't take it into the theatre. Someone piped in "there's a short before the film so you could stay out a little longer." Uh...I'd like to see the short. Isn't that the point of a film festival, to see the films? Also, in these brief encounters I tend not to get into "no thanks I can't eat the popcorn because I'm vegan" because it opens the can and I just can't get into having to explain what a vegan is etc etc.

Because we were late we ended up in row 1. A nice elderly couple in row 2 directed us to two seats available. We thanked them and took our row #2 seats and settled in. Then it started. I'm not going to be nice here. I'm usually quite forgiving, but naw, I can't be bothered. This geezer behind us starts yakking through the trailers in his normal "outside" voice. "Oh I saw this. It's really good. Just my kind of thing." This was his comments to a cop drama. D. and I are laughing to ourselves at this point because it's funny. It's the trailers. Everybody talks in trailers. Then there's a trailer for the film 3 Needles, which is three narratives set on different continents with subject matter such as AIDS in Africa, and a youth in Montreal in the porn industry. Geezer is silent because he's probably startled at the images. At the end of the trailer he says "I don't think that's my thing. It doesn't look very good." Then the short film starts.
Geezer: Is this the main movie?
Companion (slightly younger): I don't know (pause). I think so. Oh yes, it is.
Geezer: Okay then.

The short film is about a young Chinese boy reluctantly visiting his grandfather on his birthday. In the climactic moment of the film when a photo drops of the grandfather's wife who has long since passed, there's a silent moment in the film.
Geezer: (loudly) Is that his wife?
Companion: Yes it is.
When the film ends.
Companion: Oh I guess that's not the movie.
Geezer: Is it next?

The production house logos start going.

Geezer: I don't like all of that stuff they put before the movie.
Companion: Oh the advertising. Yes, there is an awful lot of it now.
Geezer: Ads everywhere. It's ridiculous.

His voice cuts into the opening shot of the film. He calms down as the film begins to roll. There's a brief moment when the picture jumps. It lasts two, maybe three seconds.

Geezer: They don't know what they're doing up there. (He's referring to the projectionist -- I think).

The film continues. For the most part he's quiet. I think because he has to concentrate on reading the subtitles.

Thank god it was subtitled.

About a young Chinese girl struggling with faith and tradition, Eve and the Firehorse moves along quite well. The death of her grandmother and her mother's miscarriage sends Eve's world into confusion as she blames herself for her grandmother's death and does not understand why the efforts she makes does not help her mother in her pregnancy. While her father is in China to return the dead grandmother to her homeland, Eve's older sister takes an interest in Catholicism while her mother becomes a practicing Buddhist. Eve is led along by the stories in both religions but feels no affinity with one or the other. She exists in the film with one foot in Catholicism and one foot in Buddhism, but for Eve none of it is very serious as she imagines goddesses dancing in the night and even Jesus and Buddha dancing together in the living room while she laughs and then is invited to dance with them. While her main concern is trying to be good, underneath Eve is really trying to cover her grief for the loss of her grandmother.

There are some beautiful moments in the film that are simple, understated and very cinematic. Following Eve through her childhood world, knowing she is different from everyone else is what really keeps one interested in the story. The scenes when we watch Eve say nothing to what is going on around her reminds us of how confusing and alienating the adult world can be to a child. Eve's voice narrates the film which acts to also remind us that we are witnessing the world from her point of view. While Eve shows no overt signs of distress in her confusion, it is her dreams, imaginings and wild story telling that reveals how Eve is trying to negotiate the world around her. It is also those scenes that are the strongest in the film.

I recommend this film not only because there are some wonderful and creative scenes in this film, but also because I encourage everyone to see Canadian film whenever they can.

Don't go by Geezer's reading of the film because in the last shot of the film before the credits rolled, Geezer said "Is that the ending?" Yes it was and it was the right ending.

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