Thursday, July 19, 2012

Darling, I Am Going Out For Cigarettes and I Will Be Right Back(2011)

Darling, I Am Going Out For Cigarettes and I Will Be Right Back(2011)
Directors:Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat
Runtime:80 min

 A darkly comic gem of a thriller with genius performances by leads Emilio Disi and Eusebio Poncela.

This Argentinian gem of an indie thriller opens with a Spaniard (Eusebio Poncela) walking on the Moroccan desert with his camel. He does not have the sense to stay out of the thunderstorm and is hit by lightning. He is amazed to find himself still alive after the lightning strike and decides to continue. After all, there is no chance that lighting will strike in the same place twice.
Yet, he is struck again. Still undead, he awakes to find himself gifted with a strange power. He has the power to allow mortal humans to relive portions of their lives. They go out for cigarettes, relive a decade of their past and return from the store into the present time. No, this is not a science fiction film. It is a deeply probing study in the mortal and the immortal, and what happens when the two mix.
As the Spaniard realizes his foolishness and his Godliness at the same time, the tone is set for the remainder of his eternal existence. In addition, the tone is set for the 80 mesmerizing minutes of this film. The best-laid plans go awry.
The one-eyed man in the valley of the blind is not king. Be careful what you wish for. Moreover, do not be a fool if you can help it. When you find out that you cannot help but be a fool, make the best of it.
As it turns out, lead character Ernesto (Emilio Disi) is not so much an outright fool as he is a common man. He has no more, or less, foolishness than most. When he strikes his Faustian bargain with the Spaniard he has only the best of intentions.
The question is whether or not, as a mortal human being, he has the ability to use such an inhuman condition wisely. Veteran actor Emilio Disi brings a humble naiveté to the role of a man who seems to have been given a great gift; the gift to go back in time and live one’s life over. Older and wiser, he has the chance to correct past mistakes and to change his own misguided behavior.
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” This breathes life into the possibilities of being able to plan better things for the life one has already lived. We all yearn for the chance to do some things over; to do them better the second time.
After all, it has to get better; it could not possibly get worse. Seizing his opportunities, talentless real estate agent Ernesto plagiarizes Lennon’s “Imagine” before the former Beatle has a chance to write it.
He notifies the US Embassy of the September 11 attacks before they happen. He says the heart-felt things on his mother’s deathbed that he was too proud and afraid to say at the time.
Nobel and ignoble intentions mix freely with Ernesto’s conversations with the gifted Spaniard. Myths handed down through time come and go. Ernesto is the sorcerer’s apprentice.
He is Mr. Peabody and Sherman from the “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” using the Wayback Machine to travel back in time, usually with unintended results. At the end of the story he has returned from the store with much more than a pack of cigarettes.
This is a story of fate. It is a tale that advances the concept of manifest destiny with the scales slanted towards original sin. We are born; therefore we will manage to pull the worst outcomes of even the best of situations.
In the end, we have failed and we have learned at the same time. This is life. Perhaps not exactly what John Lennon said, but restated as “Life is the reality that happens while we are in a fantasy.
Shot and narrated in an understated tone that brings out the hilarity in the obvious, this film is a remarkably creative addition to the Lincoln Center Latin film festival.
In an environment where so many movies seem bent on taking northern hemisphere residents south, this flick takes us all into a new world where nothing is what we expected. Three cheers for Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat!


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