Last night, using a large screen, good sound system, and with some minor revisions done, we looked at Coming to Terms, uninterrupted – we being myself, Steve Taylor, Travis Timm (age 21), and my friend from Vancouver, Elisa Ferrari (Italian, living in Canada, 30). For myself, aside from a handful of light-balance things, and very minor sound adjustments, it is done. And, in my view, certainly up with my best – Last Chants, Rembrandt Laughing, Vermeers, Bed You Sleep In, and others – though very different from all of them. I was a very happy camper. It – coupled with the Japanese film The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima – definitely put to rest any lingering qualms about losing my creative moxie to time passing.
Extracting information out of viewers is kind of like pulling teeth, no matter how much you underline “tell what you really think/feel” etc. It becomes a kind of tea-leave reading art to get between the lines. In this case with Steve it was less difficult than usual. He’d entered the viewing with some clear reservations about the pacing and tempo, though in his previous looks he hadn’t actually sat down and let it play but had jumped around a bit. This time he sat back and let it roll, said nothing (no one talked during the screening) and when it was done it seemed pretty transparent he was impressed, and rather promptly said he’d been wrong about the tempo stuff, and it worked, languorous as it may be. He also commented on the ensemble work of the cast, though – joking a bit if not entirely – said the star of the film was….. the curtains. Travis was a bit hesitant to commit to much, though having clearly been watching careful he cited a few things which showed him to be a very attentive viewer. He said he needed time to think about it – which certainly is the case with a film like this. Today he said he “liked” it, whatever that means – especially for a film such as this which is not really meant to be “likable.” It’s meant to challenge and disturb a bit. Elisa seemed to like it, though she found the talk sequences a bit long. While she speaks English fine, it is not her native language and I suspect the talk parts required a bit more work. She very much liked the transition sequences, and their very abstract qualities. It’s half the film.
Reading from this quite eclectic little slice is not so easy, but my impression was that it went well – very well. It’s not an “easy” film, though it is not at all difficult to watch. I think despite its long takes and seemingly slow pacing, there is so much hidden tension within it that it seems shorter than its 89 minutes. As my friend Swain in Missoula said, it leaves a wide space for one to think (though that thinking is gently guided towards, oh, let’s use a fancy-ass word, and say “eschatology.”) Or dropping dead, and the reverberations it can provoke – which in fact are the reverberations which one’s actions in life have provoked.
Anyway, I am indeed a happy camper, and am a bit optimistic about the film’s chances in the festival horse-races – even though it is clearly not the kind of upper/action/seat-filling item that programmers like to have, for their self-interested, number-crunching reasons. And if it’s all a delusion? What’s life…