All entries for Friday 22 October 2004

October 22, 2004

London Film Festival — Trip 1.


Dandelion

Directed by Mark Milgard
Written by Mark Milgard, Richard Murphy, Robb Williamson
With Arliss Howard, Vincent Kartheiser, Taryn Manning
Country USA
Year of Production 2003
Running Time 94 minutes

---94mins is too short for great idea

Since I am definitely going back to London Film Festival again to catch other films, I’d better to make it a series.

Although filled with all kinds of odds of plots,_ Dandelion _has actually a main plot: A boy called Mason met a girl called Danny; they fell in love; when Danny couldn't get her relation with Mason approved from her mother, she committed a suicide.

Actually skipped full packed Thursday lectures heading for London Film Festival, I bear a heartful hope for the first film I attend. Dandelion, coincidently matched my schedule, became the very one I concerned the most. Well, it was also partly for the *Sparklehorse *soundtrack that I made the decision. Having depressed times after times by their music, I have long worshipped Sparklehorse's genius in weaving the dark aura with music. Catering my expectation, Dandelion starts with _'It's a wonderful life' _as background tune. Nevertheless, apart from the great music and photography of astonishing landscape, the rest of the film seemed a bit boring owe to my getting out of bed at 6 to catch a train to London and all the other effort made to approach it. There isn't any climax, apart from the shocking sound of shooting at the beginning and the abrupt suicide of Danny in the end. The storytelling is way too pointless and concernless that it fails to touch.

To be fair, as a big fan of Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan and Guy Richie, slow rhythm and plain narrated films is just not my cup of tea. Not until the director's discussion section that I have found it was me being too much used to be distracted by the quick rhythm, the cumulative plots, and the giddy ways of shooting. React automatically only on these distractions, when facing such a film removes them deliberately (or shall I say have no alternative but to cover the shortcoming of lacking of experience and money) I couldn't find certain key signals to comprehend. Mark Milgard ascribed such way of storytelling to his own and only capable way to express. As unique as the scenery of east Washington county, such storytelling actually helps to contributes the unique situation the director tries to provide to the main characters, as well as to the audience. That is a situation where the main characters are set in a remote county without complicated social contacts, besides the sense of time/generation is also omitted in such situation. Mark Milgard tries to find out the potentials of what people would think or explore out of a plain life under such circumstance. Such removal of distractions is very evident when examining Mason and Danny’s dates. Most of the times they simply hang out in the pasture or make love there. Love was just like ‘something you made up to make yourself happy’ for this couple. Danny’s solution for deprivation of her happiness is simply to die and save the moment likewise to the way she’s addicted to drugs. Whereas Manson finally chose not to follow her but to live his life faithfully back to certain trace. (Probably the explanation for the metaphor of the last scene.)

In his young plain life, Mason encountered three damaging betrayal that would have really jeopardize his faith for life. His father put his own murderer on him, his best friend accused him for providing drugs, and the most jeopardizing suicide of his girlfriend. Putting Manson in other situations would only complicate his choices facing the harshness of life. His final choice, contrasting the primary scene of suicide, opens the optimistic theme metaphor of Dandelion. Milgards also relates Dandelion to his experience of observing the lion in zoo. When he looks in the lion’s eyes, for a certain moment, for some uncertain reasons, he nearly fell asleep. Shaken awake by the sudden roar of the lion, he then figured out what he was doing at the moment. Dandelions, again, are struggling to live in its natural way when most of the people are trying to get rid of it.

Dandelion, as a debut, is not doubt a great work. It’s just a matter of time, people like Milgards who bear great ideas in mind will be gaining bigger budget and fame, hopefully. By the way Milgards is quite a decent person. Not among those love-themselves-too-much filmmakers, but modest and very eager to have the audience’s opinions and critics. You can tell he really cares about his film in a way that it can be the main goal of his whole life.

Eventually, I m very satisfied with my day trip to London!


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