Thirteen Conversations About One Thing
... movie reviews
thu 2005-jun-30 13:34:01 pdt
Last Saturday we watched Thirteen
Conversations About One Thing. It's one of these
ensemble-cast films with a large-ish group of characters whose lives
and stories happen to overlap and intersect in interesting ways. I
tend to like those kinds of movies, and this one is no exception.
One interesting thing about it is the chronology. When it jumps
between the different characters' stories, it never gives any
indication of the relative temporal placement, but as the movie
progresses and the different stories begin to intersect, you gradually
piece together the "when" of these intersections, sometimes mentally
shifting whole storylines forward or back to make them fit.
The result is that, as with Memento (though less crucially), I
wish the DVD had a feature where you could watch the whole movie
again, with the scenes all rearranged into chronological order.
Unfortunately, assuming my understanding of DVD authoring is correct,
such a feature would not be possible to implement under the current
DVD spec, except by including on the disc all of the video data of the
film twice (which would perhaps require a second disc or the other
side of the disc or something, increasing manufacturing costs). There
is a little more to it than this, but basically, a DVD is a finite
state machine, where each state is a chunk of video, and
state-transitions correspond to button presses on the remote, plus one
special transition for which state to automatically transition to when
the end of the chunk of video is reached. So in the main menu, that
auto-transition just points back to the main menu (hence the repeating
video and audio in many main menus); for each chapter of the movie,
the auto-transition points to the next chapter, the "next" and "prev"
buttons are transitions to the next and previous chapters, the "menu"
button is a transition to the menu, and so on. No conditionals or
auxiliary state information or anything. So in particular, you can't
have the auto-transition go two different places depending on a
setting that the user selected in the menu before starting the movie,
or anything like that. Ah well.
Anyway, putting aside the interesting structure of the film, I guess I
should talk about content. The "one thing" of the title is
"happiness". And for a film ostensibly about happiness, you might say
the film is kind of dark -- some might even go so far as to call it
depressing. But I really enjoyed it, and not in the way that I would
enjoy a depressing movie (well, a good one, anyway), more in the way
that I would enjoy a light romantic comedy (well, a good one anyway).
Maybe this is just another example of me being somehow simultaneously
optimistic and cynical or something. I dunno, certain kinds of "dark"
just make me happy. (Hm. Does that make me goth?)
So I guess I recommend it to other fans of dark. Or something. I
mean, I recommend it in general. I'm just not sure whether you should
believe my recommendation. I tend to forget the fact that "dark makes
me happy" is not considered "normal"... Then again, maybe I'm
portraying the film as much darker than it really is, just by harping
on its being dark in the first place.
Well, there you go.