MOMMA’S MAN (94 MINUTES) 2008 W/D: AZAZEL JACOBS PLAYS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 AT: 7 AND 9PM PLUS SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS AT: 5PM
I was fortunate enough to see this film at SIFF (as that totally LOVELY, KIND, MULTI-TALENTED and TOTALLY ACCURATE PROFESSIONAL, Ryan Davis, Communications Director at NWFF, generously loaned me her SIFF Pass!) and it haunts me still. I really loved it! It was a definite case of film serendipity–you know how when you look forward to a film you’ve picked out from the schedule, and you decide to make it a double bill so you go to whatever is before it at the same venue? Naturally the one I came for came for sucked (SUKIYAKI DJANGO WESTERN–it started out with Quentin aping Clint (original!) and was initially dull, boring and derivative, but ended up being stupid and pointless. I am personally of the belief that Q. and Co. smoked at least a KILO of pot and then decided “let’s make a movie!”–OY!) So I was SOOO happy I chose to see this film before it!
It is an semi-autobiographical account by Azazel Jacobs (son of avant garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs–who I’m SURE lives for the day when people STOP SAYING THAT, but as it’s pertinent to the film, I beg his forgiveness for doing so), that tells us the story of a son visiting Ma and Pa back East after just having his first child. We meet him as he’s trying to fly home to California, but the weather keeps him grounded. And as one day turns into two, and then three and then…….he starts to consider exactly why he’s rushing off so fast. (With the new little one there is the normal extra tension (and responsibility!) in the marriage, and his hectic, unfulfilling work schedule add to his feeling of being overwhelmed.) One of the most endearing images in the film is him finding his box of childhood treasures, and going through them in a cape that he obviously made himself when he was 6. Oh, and did I mention his parents PLAY his parents in the film?! Adding level upon level upon level. (His mother’s Greek chorus of “Can I fix you something to eat?” becomes almost a mystical part of the background.) And WHAT a place to grow up!!! Filmed in the actual loft he grew up in–it’s, it’s, well, more like the warehouse that’s at the end of the first Indiana Jones film–full of–well–I’m not actually sure, but I KNOW avant garde artists must need them! Stacks and stacks and stacks of precisely ordered whatevers, stacked to the ceiling! The living quarters are shoved in a corner and as basic as basic can be, almost as if habitation for the human beings is an afterthought. (The scene where Mom and Dad view one of Dad’s latest creations, a GORGEOUS gown lit up from the inside in way I can’t describe, but will ALWAYS remember….incandescent is NOT the right word!) So we follow him around, visiting friends, checking out the neighborhood, trying to hook-up with a long-lost love. And descending more and more into his childhood, getting used to no responsibilities and nothing to do everyday, as well as Mom’s nurturing presence (and FOOD!). In the meantime his poor wife is trying to figure out how New York has swallowed up her husband, as he no longer returns calls or even bothers to pretend he’s trying to get a plane home. Ironically, it’s Mom that gets through to him in a most unexpected way, when, as deceptions do, all the conflicting stories finally come to a head, and all the lies and vulnerabilities are revealed.
It’s a lyrical film of quiet beauty and insight. Sigh.