Before Midnight, Part II


Photo courtesy © Berlinale

Once again, somewhere in the world, audiences are seeing that movie I really want to see.

Before Midnight had its European premiere tonight at the Berlin Film Festival. In reality, the film is already over and they’re all talking about it at the theater’s bar. It was some event called the Presentation of European Shooting Stars 2013, and I really, really, really wanted to go.

Really. I tried to buy a ticket online. They went on sale at 9am Friday morning, and I was at my laptap promptly at 9am. I went through a 30-second pop-up “waiting room” window twice, and when I finally thought I had booked a ticket, I was denied. Then I saw on the programme page that the event was sold out.

I would have gone, too. I was trolling for hotel deals within a kilometer of the theatre and scoping out Berlin travel sites. I haven’t been anywhere since Christmas and was looking forward to a quick getaway.

It’s definitely for the best. I really can’t afford the jet-set lifestyle right now, and as badly as I want to, I don’t need to skip any more classes.

What gets me is that the festival had a massive spoiler about the film in its programme. I say massive, although they really just gave away part of the set-up, but if you’re familiar with the story at all, you know that giving away the set-up of one of these films basically steals nine years’ worth of magic from the audience. I can also see a review up online, but I only read the subheading, which contains a slight criticism that really could apply to any of the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight films.

You can probably expect another of these posts when Before Midnight plays at South by Southwest. My boyfriend has offered to sneak in with a video camera, but that is generally frowned upon at film festivals.

UPDATE: Of course, the film’s stars were in Berlin tonight.

Before Midnight


I write a lot of my blog posts late at night, right before I go to bed. I try to get them posted before midnight Irish time, but sometimes I settle for “oh well, it’s still yesterday in Texas” when I’m trying to post daily entries. It’s gotten worse this semester, with these four-day weekends and the amount of reading I have to do – I’m not sleeping at night.

All this to say, in my mind, it’s still January 20, which means: Happy Before Midnight Premiere Day!

As I write this, audiences at Sundance Film Festival are watching the world premiere of Before Midnight, the third film in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise / Before Sunset storyline. The films follow Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy around various European cities in the timeframes indicated by the titles. The installments are spaced nine years apart, with release dates in 1995, 2004, and now 2013.

Take the film-release frenzy of your Harry Potter, your Twilight, your Hunger Games, mix in a little indie-movie snobbery, stir it all together and allow to steep into a strong arthouse brew, then add a splash of Gen-X disenchantment and a sprinkle of wanderlust, and that is how excited I am about this movie. I am completely invested in these characters, and I cannot wait to find out what happens to them.

Before Midnight is screening at the Berlin Film Festival in a few weeks, and I’m very tempted to just go…

“He treats objects like women, man.”

Forewarning: Tonight I purchased a ticket for Ruby Sparks fully prepared to hate it. I was not disappointed.

Creative Commons Attribution: Georges Biard


I admit to having a thing for Paul Dano. I overlooked him the first time I saw Little Miss Sunshine, but There Will be Blood piqued my interest and now the color-blind Nietzsche fanboy is totally my cup of tea. I even sat through Meek’s Cutoff for him.

He plays a yellow-livered coward in Cowboys & Aliens and more recently in Looper. Meek’s, Blood, and Cowboys were all westerns, and Looper is supposed to be a sort of reimagining of the western. I’m glad he’s getting roles, but I didn’t really like the idea of Paul Dano being typecast.

So when Being Flynn was closely followed by Ruby Sparks, I was kind of worried. I haven’t liked a movie about “the writing life” since I graduated from college, so I get kind of annoyed with previews that portray writer’s block. Paul Dano has that writerly look about him, but I would almost rather see him play supporting roles in westerns for the rest of his career than watch him stare winsomely at one more typewriter.

Being Flynn just seemed like a write-through-the-pain father/son story, but Ruby Sparks looked borderline offensive. He can manipulate a woman’s behavior? A woman whose purple tights barely cover her lady bits when he picks her up and carries her caveman-style down the street?

It was Ruby’s first lines in the preview that irked me the most:

I missed you in bed last night.
D’you get some good writing done?
[childishly licks spoon]

How… dumb. How thoroughly dumb.

Finding out that his female co-star wrote the film did not help matters. To clarify: Zoe Kazan wrote a screenplay where a man creates the perfect woman, and she cast herself as that perfect woman. Yeah, I want to see a film about the writing life according to Zoe Kazan.

This kind of reminds me of the kerfuffle about Lena Dunham when Girls premiered. People were annoyed that these privileged Gen Y-ers were essentially filming their lives and calling it art. Their defense was that someone can grow up rich and still have something meaningful to say, but I think what we’re getting at here is that normal people can’t get away with this. The rest of us go to public schools and get that sort of behavior beaten out of us by the other kids. We’re jealous, yeah, but it’s not of their money or their talent; it’s of their sheltered lives where this sort of thing is allowed, even praised.

Did I forget to mention that Zoe Kazan has rich, well-connected parents? And grandparents? And she’s – sigh – dating Paul Dano?

Over the past week, I did this whole thing where I read some Nick Flynn, then rented Being Flynn on iTunes, and finally dragged myself to the cinema to sit through Ruby Sparks (it opened later in Ireland than in the US, but it’s about to close here.) I treated it like an assignment, and boy did it feel like one.

A few weeks ago, Hadley Freeman tweeted:

All three of these films were excrutiatingly painful to watch. I don’t know if I’m just getting old, but they felt so formulaic: Wallflower had a checklist of teen-angsty issues that had to be crammed into the plot, and I liked Liberal Arts better when it was released 10 years ago and starred Zach Braff.

As for Ruby Sparks, well, the actress is a girl named Zooey Zoe, right? And by way of introduction, we see her riding a vintage bicycle rollerskating in sunlight while a voiceover describes her attributes and she’s from somewhere that’s not Los Angeles, like maybe Michigan Ohio and ohmygod we get a quick peek at her high school yearbook photo! Then there’s a scene where she and her love interest run around Ikea an arcade because they are just so twee and in love!  But maybe he’s not seeing her clearly? Just like his sister brother cautioned?  Conflict arises. And when it’s all over, he meets a new girl, but she’s kind of the same girl, because her name is the next season in the annual cycle purposefully left out of his latest novel.

Hadley does this better than I ever could, but I needed to get it off my chest. I walked home upset that people get to create vanity projects like Ruby Sparks while some really good ideas go underfunded. Luckily, Paul Dano pretty much disappeared into his role, so in my eyes, he made it through this movie unscathed.

Famine Fairy

So… yesterday I volunteered to be an extra in a film / television show / who knows what, I just thought it would be fun. They told me to come dressed as if for a job interview; that I would be filming a comedy club scene. Easy peasy. I’ve been an extra before, and it’s a lot of standing around and pretending to watch the central action. An hour of my life, no big deal.

When I got there, they said they had finished filming the comedy club scene that morning and were moving on to the next scene. Not only were my uncomfortable heels unnecessary, but I was going to be made-up as a modern day famine victim and have a camera shoved in my face while I – gasp – delivered actual lines.

I don’t think my 30-second fake commentary on the Irish political situation will make it to the final cut (American accent and all), but the make-up was pretty awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I didn’t bother to wash it off, and went to my 6pm class looking like a zombie.

The terrible thing is that no one noticed. I was on campus for four hours last night, and nobody said a word. Apparently, I just look that haggard all the time.

So with Halloween coming up, I’ve got to start working on my fairy costume. I tried on my wings with the make-up yesterday, just to see what Famine Fairy would look like.

Irish for “Ruler of the World”

I really did spend a lovely day reading How to Get a Job in Publishing, although I took a break to go catch a 1:35 matinee at the Eye Cinema on Lough Atalia, about a half hour’s walk from the city centre.

This is my second trip out to the Eye since I’ve been here. Funnily enough, the Eye is a literal stone’s throw away from the old B&B I lived in for four months in 2004. The cinema and adjacent G Hotel were constructed mere moments after I moved back to the States.

Last Tuesday was my first visit, when I went to see Anna Karenina, also during the middle of the day. For some reason, I imagined the Eye to be cavernous theaters with the shaking seats and screens approaching Imax capabilities, but it was more of a cozy cluster of smaller theaters, like the Alamo Drafthouse without the foodie-and-boozy atmosphere.

I actually liked Anna Karenina more than I thought I would, but I left the Eye feeling very old. When Jude Law and Olivia Williams are successfully cast as members of the stodgy older generation, Keira Knightly feels threatened by some silly young thing, and the kid from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is playing one of literature’s great lovers – well, it might be time for me to reevaluate my life.

I hadn’t known that Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson was in the film. He was so raw and not immediately likable – in short, the perfect Levin.

Then today, I go to Theatre 3, the “art house” screen (the same size as the others, but it has a bar outside instead of a concession stand) to watch Shadow Dancer. I knew nothing about this film going in, save that it starred my boyfriend Clive Owen and had something to do with the IRA. It turned out to be centered on the lives of a ridiculously good-looking family of Belfast Catholics in 1993. Imagine my surprise when Dohmnall Gleeson showed up on screen as the “shiny haired brother.” (Another casting shock was Gillian Anderson – I always forget she is half-British.)

This time watching Domhnall Gleeson’s performance, there was less “oh, he’s just so terribly earnest” and more “I’m sort of taking a liking to this fella.” By the time he uttered the line “Just f*ckin’ do it already. Just f*ckin’ do it already,” I was a Domhnall Gleeson fan.

I think I’m late to this party, because Domhnall Gleeson is everywhere these days. I remember my first week or so in Galway, I kept seeing his photo, along with Michael Fassbinder’s (also Irish), accompanying a newspaper article about a movie they are making together called Frank. This is definitely important to Irish film and I should have paid better attention to the context, but at the time, all I remember thinking is:

He looks like a Weasley.

And in fact, he did play a Weasley: Bill, the eldest… he who marries Fleur.

Domhnall Gleeson’s real-life family is just as famous and interesting. His father is Brendan Gleeson, who American audiences know most recently from The Guard, as well as Braveheart and Far and Away. He also played Mad-Eye Moody in the Harry Potter films.

On my third day here in Galway, I went to a screening of Irish short films on campus, and I am so very glad I did because the films were absolutely fantastic. One of them was Noreen (2010), which stars Brendan and another son, Brian, as dopey garda in County Offaly. Noreen was written and directed by Domhnall.

So half the actors in Ireland have the last name Gleeson. I guess they’re the Irish Baldwins?

Right next to my current apartment there is a construction site with all sorts of cinematic images painted on the sidewalk scaffolding. I read in the paper last week that it’s supposed to be an art house cinema, set to open in late 2013. It’s possible, just barely possible, that I will be living here long enough to see it. Then I won’t have to walk all the way out to the Eye to see me art house films.

I went over there tonight to snap a few quick pictures of the Brendan Gleeson star, and a neighborhood gentleman out walking his dog pointed to the art and said in his wonderful Irish accent:

“That was done by Margaret Williams.”

“It was done by hooligans?” I asked, repeating what I thought I had heard.

“Margaret Williams,” he stated firmly, and retreated down the street a ways.

I took a few more pictures, and as he unlocked his front door, he decided to give me another chance.

“It’s going to be a cinema.”

“The art house, right. I heard. And who did the art?”

“Margaret Williams. You see her around. She does work with the street kids who do graffiti.”

So in a way, I heard correctly: it really was done by hooligans.