April 16th, 2008

Giannina Facio

The red violin

Eating my dinner in front of the TV has become somewhat of a ritual and enjoying a meal becomes somewhat difficult when the movie I want to watch contains subtitles. It's bad enough focusing on reading and missing the performance, the expressions that I've come to appreciate in actors, but when a good foreign film like this comes along, the main course might as well go out the window. This film is different in that it, like the violin, contorts itself to obligingly transform into a movie with dialog I understand. You see, it's only the first half of the film that really requires your undivided attention. The fact that the film goes rather longer than normal conveniently allows for an intermission pause while a snack is prepared.

Food was the last thing on my mind, and although I couldn't understand the French, nor the German dialog, I found myself pausing the movie when a helicopter overhead began it's descent. Of course, no helicopter, or jumbo jet, landed on my roof top, or landing pad. There wasn't an unusually low jet hovering over my house either. The cat simply needed to be let back in, and I used the moment to take care of some business. As much as the exploitation of movie structure should satisfy anybody without concern over giveaways, I'm not going to tell you how it ends.

The story unusually revolves around the different hands that have ever held a special stradivarius violin. It unfolds the birth of the instrument as the father who molds it ascribes to his wife to nurtured it. Without too much emphasis on the personal lives of the various people who've held it and made it sing, the violin itself becomes the storyteller in the way it effects the reaction of its audience when summoned to sing. This movie is the type of film that makes me ask the question "why do I even tolerate listening to rock `n roll?" It's the type of film that explains why a tune can hold the attention of even the most impatient critic alive.

Surprised at how long I waited before I finally came around to watching it, I'm adding it to my DVD collection as soon as the opportunity allows for a trip to the DVD store. A short part of the film reminded me of a scene in a film about vampires in which a little boy, standing in the courtyard of a dilapidated, old, black and white mansion makes an effort to practice his violin as though he's so bad, his parents made him practice outside. Something about violins in mafia flicks made me also wonder about death. What with vampires and organized crime, the violin has established quite a synonymous association with the concept of doom. Fearing the reaper slowly evaporated as the plot structure began an appeal to my rebellious approval.

screenwriter, Kightlinger, hate

Chestpains. Where's the defibrilator?

INT. OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER
Peter has settled behind his desk to eat his lunch. Donna disappeared along with the rest of her entourage the moment it became clear that the boss was headed toward the office.
BOSS
I'll introduce you to the employees.
Aaron walks in to the office.
BOSS
Aaron. Can you come here please. This is Selma. She's starting today. This is Aaron.
He flirts.
AARON
Hi. Nice to meet you.
SELMA
Hi, it's nice to meet you too. I look forward to working together. I feel like I already know you from what Elsie has already described.
AARON
Oh, good things, I hope. Thank you. You're gonna like it here. When you're settled in, let me know so we can take a break.
BOSS
Did Bier go to lunch?
AARON
With the receptionist? He may be on his lunch break.
BOSS
Okay, that's alright. I'm just showing Selma around.
Although Bier clearly hears his name, he remains still until the fly comes around to pester his lunch.
Boss
Oh there you are.
Pete's eyes pop out at the vision of Selma as he attempts a closer look through the sides of his eyes.
Pete
Hi. I was just making copies. Hello, I'm Scott, eh, Pete. Nice to meet you... Selma? Er, Scott was telling me that a new writer was starting today.
(PAUSE)
Excuse me. There's a customer out there I'm helping the receptionist with. I just popped my head in to take a quick bite of my lunch before it gets too cold.
Selma
Oh, absolutely. I understand.
Boss
You're eating at your desk?
Aaron
(SIGNALING)
I'm going to the break room.
The boss and Selma slowly move down the row of cubicles to see who they can catch for an introduction.
Employee
(TO PHONE)
Excuse me.
Aaron
(TO PETE)
Do you need me for anything?
Pete
No. It's just something I thought I could take care of during my work hours.
Aaron
I just thought...
Pete
I gotta get out there.
The receptionist pops her head in before Pete get exit.
RECEPTIONIST
Pete? Emma wants to hand you these big stacks of papers personally.
EMMA (O.C.)
Hi, my name is Maggie.
Pete spots the fly and seems to believe he can calculate its path. He swipes at it and catches it, then looks around to see if anybody saw. As he exits the office, he shakes his clutched fist by his ear to listen to the fly.
PETE (ANXIOUS)
How can I help you today?
EMMA (O.C.)
Oh, you know... I'm just here to show you some papers which were requested as authorization for buying space in the magazine.
PETE
Really? Okay.
Emma fumbles thru papers concentrating on her stuff. Pete sees an opportunity, and hurls the fly against the wall and sees it drop to the floor. He walks over to it, satisfied to step on it dead.
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