Monday, April 15, 2013

Last Summer in the Hamptons

This is the second Henry Jaglom film I have watched (Deja Vu was the first), and I enjoy the rough but immediate feel of both these films. Deja Vu seemed very cinema verite, while Last Summer seems less so. That could reflect that the approach works better in this film or that it was more scripted. Not sure which.

It is very talky, and that does tend to make the movie a bit slow in pacing. However, I like how his movies unfold. The standard plot devices and progression are tossed aside in favor of characterization and interplay between the characters. This makes the film far less predictable and truer to life. It also allows for the characters to be understood as you get to know them, and even for certain aspects of them to remain unresolved.

For me the key to the movie is the first scene - the one before the credits start. In this scene the eldest member of the family consuls her granddaughter about how to make sense of a part she is playing. I'm paraphrasing, but the essence of it was that acting is learning. It's about what happens to you from the moment the scene starts to when it ends. I drew this as a parallel to the entire movie. Each character (and really all of us) are going from scene to scene in life, and perhaps the trick is what happens between the start and end of each scene. The one thing I'd love to learn the meaning of the word the grandmother uses to describe the annual event at the house. No one in the family knows, but I bet Jaglom does and it probably is a big key to understanding his aim with this movie at a deeper level.

Jaglom has created a movie that is an atom smasher...with characters as the atoms. If you like the idea of seeing flawed, intelligent, creative people interacting, combusting, and arriving where they arrive, then you'll love this movie. If you need something a little bit more'd better pass.

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