Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Recreating the past and the present

The New York art house crawl continues. Back-to-back films found me first at Quad Cinema in the West Village for Marjorie Prime, followed by Nobody’s Watching, at Film Forum on Houston St….. Marjorie Prime, directed by Michael Almereyda, (photo left) based on Jordan Harrison's play, is set some time in the future, just far enough where holograms are a fact of life or when today’s millennials are well into middle age. Lois Smith is Marjorie, a near death Baby Boomer who longs for her deceased husband Walter. But in the future you can recreate former loved ones, and Walter (Jon Hamm) appears before her as a reasonable facsimile, aka hologram or “prime.” This presence seems to satisfy Lois emotionally though there are gaps in the hologram’s knowledge of their relationship. Tim Robbins and Geena Davis play daughter and son-in-law, who’ve moved in with Marjorie to support her, yet ambivalence reigns between the couple and Marjorie and even between them and Walter, who they see as an intruder. It’s sci-fi, folks, and the film raises interesting questions about whether memory should be left as it is or can be suitably re-created via an electronic stand-in…..About 10 blocks south of Quad Cinema, after taking in the only-could-be New York street scene on 6th Avenue, it was a screening at Film Forum of the Argentinian film Nobody’s Watching (Julia Solomonoff). I couldn’t get into a packed screening featuring the director a couple of nights before. The film is about Nico (Guillermo Pfening), soap opera star in his native Argentina, but trying to transform his life as a “real” actor in the Big Apple. He’s good looking, has a sort of charisma, and you’d think New York would be his oyster. But he’s having no luck. He takes factotum jobs, shoplifts to make ends meet, and his relationships with friends and lovers are unstable. Pfening plays his character effortlessly in a highly realistic contemporary slice of life drama.

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