Friday, March 10, 2017

Father and Son, Allen Fong, 1981

A film literally soaked in the specifics of memory. The long stairway leading to the small, humble apartment high above the city, the view of the vast cityscape from above (two boys pittet against a sea of houses down below as if they were spirits roaming the sky, resting in clouds). Children's games on the schoolyard, hierarchies and their unmaking, identity defined by actions and social relationships ("Are you the one who's scaring people with toads?"  - "Yes"). Every escape from social control feels like the ultimate victory, no matter how small. Objects, meals, toilets.

Simultaneously, this is an earnest, tightly structured, sometimes almost didactic film about the mechanics and value of family. In a way both the boy and the father try to prevent the boy from becoming the father. The action of one always already influences the other, but there's no chance for communication, no escape, just a heartbreaking sense of grief.

For the boy, everything is cinema. But that's mainly a curse, too. His love for illuminated images almost burns down the family home. After being hit by his father, to stop the bleeding a woman puts tobacco on his face - an instant Chaplin mustache. His camera finally falls down and breaks up, just like the leg of the actor in his first amateur film.

Teacher: "What do you want to be?"
Boy: "I want to work at a movie theater."
Teacher: "Why do You want to do that?"
Boy: "So I can watch movies and earn money at the same time"
Well, that's always the idea...

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