Thursday, September 30, 2010

NYFF ’10: All Flowers in Time (short)

If you have always been unnerved by French cowboys, it turns out your fears were justified. It is hard to explain, but it makes for interesting viewing in Jonathan Caouette’s new short film, All Flowers in Time (trailer here), which screens tonight with Hong Sang-soo’s feature Oki’s Movie at the 48th New York Film Festival.

The French Cowboy is sort of like the old MTM cat, giving the sign-off at the end of a warped Dutch children’s program. Its barrage of subliminal images seems to give kids strange ideas and red glowing eyes, sort of like the monkey spirits of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee.

Those prone to obsess over questions like why and how this is happening are likely to be frustrated by Flowers. However, if those who ever wanted to see Dutch television produced somewhere deep within the Black Lodge of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks will delight in Caouette’s bizarre visuals (no giants or dwarves, though). However, the greatest surprise in store for viewers is Chloë Sevigny’s unexpectedly likable and charismatic lead performance, especially given the macabre twist of her central scene and Flowers’ overall surreal vibe. Indeed, the let-me-show-you-a-scary-face game she plays with the young boy in her charge (relationship unknown) is an effective set-up vehicle for creepy chills, not that Caouette is really going for that (or maybe he is, who can say really?).

One thing is certain: Caouette is indulging in quite a bit of gamesmanship throughout Flowers. However, it actually builds towards something interesting, even if it leaves a ten gallon hat full of question unanswered. Strangely entertaining (strange being the operative word), Flowers screens tonight (9/30) as part of the 2010 NYFF at Alice Tully Hall.