Vienna International Film Festival, part 2

Speaking again about the armchair incident at the Vienna Airport mentioned below, the situation it evokes of being in a strange place with strange things going on and with no one speaking your language recurs as a theme in just about every film I've seen so far among those in competition.

For example, in the aforementioned "Folge Mir," the heroine finds herself totally estranged from the absurd bourgeois world in which she's forced to live, but no more so than the viewer is from the movie. More successful is American independent director Mike Ott's feature "Littlerock" in which a young Japanese brother and sister are stranded in the small California town of the title and try to overcome language and cultural barriers and get to know the indolent, drug-addled kids who live there. Sounds a bit familiar, perhaps, and at first glance Ott seems to be an heir to the laidback sensibility of Jim Jarmusch. But the film is very much an original as he captures with subtlety, wit, and irony the points of few of both the Japanese visitors and the local yokels, sometimes with something as simple as the choice to use or not use subtitles. PLus it includes a riveting, hilarious, sui generis performance by Littlerock resident Cory Zacharia pretty much playing himself as Cory, who, because of his ingenuous ambitions to become somebody, might be even more of an outsider than the two foreigners.

Romanian director Marian Crusan tells a similar story in "Morgen," in which a Turkish refugee trying to get to Germany to link up with his son gets waylaid in a Romanian backwater. Against his better judgment, a shlumpy security guard  tries to help him out, resulting in an odd couple buddy movie scenario reminiscent of Jarmusch's "Down by Law," though the Turkish guy is a lot less annoying than Roberto Benigni. But he is very much a caricature, devoid of an inner life or point of view unlike the outsiders in "Littlerock," a problem which is not helped by Crusan's tendency to excessively and gratuitously long takes, which at times makes "Morgen" seem like  a parody of a Romanian movie.

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