We hereby bestow the coveted “Gerry” Award for Cinematic Pointlessness to Mexican director Carlos Reygadas. This is a new award, nominated and voted on solely by Lee and myself, for the most egregious example of pretension, sloppiness, artsy-fartsyness, and most of all being the boooooriiiingest movie of the year (or month, week, depending on how often we decide to give it out). Named in honor of Gus van Sant, whose unbearably awful Gerry inspired us.
The award is a cardboard cut-out of the letters FF, mounted on a Popsicle stick and embedded in a base of hardened cow flop. The letters FF signify that, at some point we looked at each other and said, simultaneously “Fast Forward!!!” A movie where you can fast forward without any fear at all of missing something, where you care so little for the characters and situations that you don’t mind them going by at 1.5X with dialogue by Chip ‘n Dale, 5X with no sound at all, or even at 60X is a movie richly deserving of the Gus Award.
Summary: An artist goes to a remote valley in Mexico to kill himself. Why this valley? Why kill himself? We aren’t told. He rents a room from an 80-year-old woman who lives at the top of a hill. This entails a lot of walking up and down. We see just about every step of every trip up and down. To make it even more excruciatingly boring, the artist has a limp, so it takes him a long time. Why does he limp? We aren’t told. He finds a dead horse. He decides not to kill himself. He fucks his landlady. We see this in all its clinical detachment. Is this meant to shock us? It didn’t shock me. His landlady’s relatives want her barn. Not as a building, they just want the stones it’s made of. The artist protests. They tear down the barn anyway. They haul the stones down the mountain. Then we get a long, long, long tracking shot of stones and bodies scattered along a railroad track. The last body is the old landlady. Apparently, on perfectly level ground, on a track straight as an arrow, the people have been hit by a train and all killed. Do we care? Not at all.
Why is it called Japon? (Spanish for Japan.) Maybe because before it’s over you want to commit ritual suicide. [Suicide and sex with an 80-year-old woman is a lot more fun in Harold and Maude, with music by Cat Stevens before he changed his name to Yusuf Islam and “turned his back on the music industry.”]