Friday, May 24, 2013

Before Midnight

Quentin: It’s nice to be back talking about movies.

Jake: We decided to say no to both Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover III.

Jason: And went to see Before Midnight instead.

Quentin: It’s good to support Austin filmmakers.

Jake: Richard Linklater is from Houston.

Quentin: I know. But Austin claims him. Slacker is one of the great chronicles of our fair city.

Jason: Can I recap?

Quentin: Go for it, little bro.

Jason: This is the third film in a series, and honestly, I’d never heard of the other two films before.

Jake: I’d heard of them, but I’d never seen them.

Jason: So we watched both last night. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. The three movies follow the same two characters from 1994 to the present, but only for one day at pivotal turning points in their lives. The first movie is when they meet on a train to Vienna and have one night to spend together. So they walk around talking all night, fall in love…

Quentin: And then eventually have sex.

Jake: And agree to meet again in six months. They walk away and we have no idea what happens to them.

Jason: The second movie is ten years later, same actors…

Quentin: Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

Jason: He’s written a book about that night and she shows up at one of his readings.

Jake: It’s romantic to write a book about someone in hopes that it will bring them back.

Jason: Very romantic. The second movie ends without a resolution too. Do they end up getting together or do they walk away again?

Jake: Linklater loves to end with a big open question mark.

Jason: The first movie I understood. That’s a movie a teenage boy can find his way into, because it’s all about the carpe diem of youth.  I loved the second movie too, because it’s all about lost opportunities and second chances. <winks at Jake> But this one… I had a hard time relating to it. I think these are old people’s problems, and I don’t want to think about them yet.

Quentin: The Julie Delpy character reminded me a lot of our mom.

Jason: I knew you were going to say that.

Jake: I can see what you mean. No offense, but the only impression I have of your mom was when she kicked me out of this house.

Quentin: Our parents were very similar to these two. Mom was passionate and moody and self-righteous…

Jason: And somehow Dad always saved her from tipping the boat over.

Quentin: And that’s what’s going on in this movie. Once again, the two characters are at a crucial moment in their lives and she is determined to tip the boat over.

Jake: I couldn’t help but side with Ethan Hawke through most it.

Quentin: Let’s talk about what we liked first.

Jason: The style is very European. It’s almost entirely made up of conversations.

Quentin: It’s a chatty film.

Jason: With no real narrative to speak of.

Jake: But plenty of conflict.

Quentin: Linklater picked his moment in time perfectly. The stakes are high and clear after the first scene. I loved that, the way the crisis was spoken and then quickly dropped so that it could simmer.

Jason: And then eventually boil over.

Jake: These two actors put on a master class in cinematic chemistry.

Jason: Are they a couple in real life?

Jake: No. Ben said something about him marrying the nanny.

Quentin: I wonder what the nanny thinks of him sucking Julie Delpy’s tittie like that.

Jason: The whole scene where she’s walking around topless? Was that necessary?

Quentin: Yes. Boys like boobs.

Jake: Some boys. Ethan Hawke never even took his shirt off.

Jason: Probably for the best.

Jake: You don’t think he’s hot?

Jason: Sure. Twenty years ago.

Jake: You’re supposed to say not as hot as me.

Jason: We’ve already established that no one is as hot as you.

Quentin: Stop. Now.

Jake: Did you see Will got shot on Days of Our Lives?

Jason: And Sonny's face when he found out?

Jake: They are the best gay couple anywhere on TV.

Quentin: Better than the dudes on The New Normal?

Jake: Cancelled.

Quentin: Ah. Guess that disqualifies them then.

Jason: It’s a tie between Will & Sonny and Ian & Mickey on Shameless. That last episode just about broke my heart.

Jake: You’re right. I forgot about Ian & Mickey.

Quentin: Were we talking about a movie?

Jake: I really loved the way Linklater parses out his exposition. Obviously, we want to know what’s happened in the last nine years, and a typical American movie would find a way to have one of the characters fill in all the gaps in the first scene. In both the second and third movies, there were vital pieces of the backstory we didn’t get until the last 15 minutes. He always stayed in the present and let the past reveal itself naturally. It was masterful.

Jason: That was nice, I admit, but also odd that a filmmaker with such a European style comes from Texas.

Quentin: I think Travis would like this movie.

Jason: Because it’s about forgiveness?

Quentin: Yep. He always says a relationship is just one long exercise in forgiveness.

Jake: Julie Delpy said some pretty harsh things to Ethan Hawke.

Quentin: That’s what love is, I think. If you can’t see past the other person’s fear and bullshit, you’re toast.

Jake: This movie reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. Do you know who Mike Nichols is?

Quentin: He’s the guy who directed Working Girl, right?

Jason: Travis loves that movie.

Jake: Right. He said there are only three kinds of scenes: fights, negotiations, and seductions.

Quentin: This has all three.

Jake: Storytellers forget how riveting a good negotiation can be, but not Linklater.

Jason: The movie is one long negotiation.

Jake: I really appreciated the way the day unfolded. It seemed effortless.

Jason: The dinner scene was a little pretentious.

Quentin: But she made fun of that later.

Jake: That was good.

Jason: Yes, but is that really a defense? Eight people are sitting at a table in Greece, only one of them speaks English as his first language, and yet they’re all speaking English. Things like that bother me.

Quentin: Fair enough. I still give it a thumbs up.

Jake: Me too, but mostly because of the skill level on display.

Quentin: Especially the writing.

Jason: I say if you saw the first one when it came out in ‘94, and you’ve seen the second one, then this movie was made for you.

Jake: No question about it. All the themes are for people over 40.

Jason: And I’m sure when I’m 40, I’ll watch it again and have a completely different reaction.

Jake: Do you think we’ll still be together when we’re 40?


  1. I haven't seen the movie, but the Greece comment caught my attention. I'm from Germany. English is not my first (or second) language. In the past, I've had occasion to eat with people from different countries who didn't speak German. Our dinner conversations were held in English, because it's the one language most people have in common. So, no, it's not unheard of to get a group of friends together in Greece and speak English.

  2. What can I say? It felt odd to me. So, yes, I'm sticking to my original observation =) -Jason

  3. I adored the first movie when it came out (yes, I'm the intended 40+ yo audience for this installment lol) - I somehow missed the second one, so I guess I'll have to have a little marathon to get caught up before I see this one - thanks for the review!

  4. Hello,
    I really like your input about the new movies coming out, but I am more of a television girl. I love this week when you’ve been talking more about TV shows with the Vampire Diaries post. Jason, I agree with you that it is a tie between Will & Sonny and Ian & Mickey. I love them both.

  5. Jason and I watched the season finale of Shameless together, and when Mickey said "Don't," I thought Jason was going to lose it. The last I read, Cameron Monaghan (who plays Ian) has not been offered a contract for season 4. We hope it's not the end for those two kids.

    Mary, you should definitely catch up and see this one. You'll love it! -Jake