Eternity and a Day
Director: Theo Angelopoulos
Screenplay: Theo Angelopoulos
Cast: Bruno Ganz, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Isabelle Renauld
NY Distribution Status: opens 28 May 1999 (Artistic License)

Grade: C

Perhaps one day, when I get older, many years from now (I'm already losing my hair, thanks much), I'll find that I appreciate somber, snail-paced movies about regret made by aging auteurs. Presently, however, the snotnosed punk in me tends to be less than charitable. Like Manoel de Oliveira's equally stately Voyage to the Beginning of the World, Angelopoulos' Palme d'Or-winner follows a famous artist -- a writer, in this case, played by a Greek-dubbed, suitably dour Bruno Ganz -- as he wanders about in a dazed reverie, thinking profound thoughts (to judge from the expression on his face), remembering episodes from his past (flashbacks, thankfully, are eschewed in favor of Angelopoulos' favorite chronological gimmick, in which the past impinges itself upon the present), wondering what it all meant (aloud, over and over again). As ever, the constantly creeping camera invests even the most banal scenes with a formal beauty and tension that prevents drowsiness, and at least the dialogue in this picture, unlike that spoken by poor Harvey Keitel in Ulysses' Gaze, doesn't sound as if it's been translated by the Babel Fish (though the difference may simply be a matter of the spoken word v. the written word, as Eternity is subtitled). Technical dexterity aside, however, we're talking about a stultifying piece of work, arid and joyless; it's the kind of film in which the protagonist plaintively says things like "Tell me, mother -- why didn't we know how to love?" ("Because we were too busy asking moronic pseudo-philosophical questions," I yearned for her to reply.) Oh, and did I mention that Ganz's itinerant MopeMaster spends much of his forever+24 bonding with a cute Albanian moppet? I swear to god, it's getting to where I never want to see an adult and a child in the same frame for the rest of my life.