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This week:
Before Sunset

Filthy says:
" I'm a sucker for the sweet stuff.

Have you ever been insanely in love? I don't mean just plain old love, the kind where you think about a girl all the time, wonder what she's doing when you're not around, dream about moving in with and her still paying all the rent, ponder whether she'll still give you blowjobs when you're eighty, and eventually get the balls to introduce yourself to. That kind of love is as easy getting your ankle caught in a storm drain. Holy crap, before I met Mrs. F I fell in love like that about three times a day. Sometimes to the same woman. Sometimes to items on the Taco Bell value menu. I'm a God damn fool for love. I would eat my own vomit if it meant I would be loved in return. Hell, who am I kidding? I wouldn't eat my own vomit. That shit's nasty and you never know what's in it. Seriously, I am constantly amazed at the crap I find in my puke. When did I eat a superball?

I got off track there about puke. It's easy to do. But what I want to talk about is mad, all-consuming, obsessive love. Have you ever loved someone so much that you'd do anything he or she asked? No questions asked: she calls after many years and says "Help me rob a bank." And you say "Okay." If it were regular old love, you'd ask questions like "which bank?", "who's driving?" and "again?" But this is the one person who, even if you haven't spoken to her for ages, you'd drop everything, put pantyhose over your head and pack heat.

This sort of love is usually a one-way street. From my own experience, I know that most of the time only one person in a pair is wildly in love. Many times, I would tell a girl how badly I needed her and her response was silence. Or, worse, "Eeeeeewwwww." This didn't make me love her less. I just spent meven more time trying to figure out how to make her feel as intensely as I did.

Before Sunset is about mad love, except it's not just one in a pair who feels it. Both are madly in love. The movie follows up Before Sunrise, a movie made by Richard Linklater ten years ago about two college-aged people played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. They meet while touring Vienna and spend one night, falling in love and departing on their trains at sunrise. They promise to meet again in the exact same place six months later. They were so confident in their love that they didn't exchange phone numbers or addresses. For some idiotic reason they thought it would be more romantic to leave it to providence that they would meet again. That movie didn't say whether they did meet up again as they promised, leaving it to the viewer to decide. Apparently, if you're a romantic you imagined they did. If you're a cynic you imagined they didn't. Personally, I figured they both got mangled in horrid car crashes and thought themselves too hideous to ever be loved. And so they went into the sewers to live and raise mutant babies who would only come out at night to feed on virgin flesh.

Nine years later, my guess was about right for Hawke. he didn't get hit by a car, but he definitely got mauled by rats. A decade ago he looked weaselly, but now he looks weaselly and gaunt, like his edges were nibbled by horses, and then they left their teeth in his mouth. As Before Sunset begins, he is in Paris signing his new novel, which happens to be about a couple who meet and spend a night together in Vienna, and then part with the promise to meet again. At the end of the signing, Delpy comes into the bookstore. She lives in Paris now. Hawke has an hour before he must go to the airport to catch his flight back to the States and all the grown-up obligations he has there. The movie unfolds in the real time that Hawke has before his flight leaves.

Delpy and Hawke's interaction at first is uneasy and awkward; it's what you'd expect from former lovers who never made contact after that one night. They poke around, seeing how the other feels now, as well as how they feel. Is it still mad love? They have thought constantly about each other, but will the real person live up to the idealized image that was burnished into their minds for ten years? Or will they have changed too much to be the one the other loved? It's a good question. Ten years is a long time. People change. More importantly, their situations do.

As they walk through Paris, the old love is rekindled. Delpy and Hawke realize that even though the years have made them different in some ways, they are ultimately the same people andstill drawn to each other like moths to a bug zapper. Except, it's not as cool when the people connect. Seriously, I can watch a bug zapper for hours. As they talk, the conversation becomes more natural. They peel away the layers of defense they piled on over the years until they've finally become the young lovers again.

Before Sunrise was a celebration of the time the two spent together. It was really fucking romantic, the kind of movie that was so genuinely sweet it made me wish I had seen someone I loved. That way I wouldn't have ended up giving myself hickies. The entire movie is about Hawke and Delpy squeezing as much enjoyment as they could out of their time together. And that time would become pleasant memories with the promise of more later. Before Sunset ain't romantic. It's something else, maybe wistful. While the two lovers enjoy each other, there is sadness in it because both know their time together is finite.

There is an inherent sadness, I think, to any pleasurable experience that has to end. Like sex. Who doesn't think about how shitty it is that sex can't ever last longer than 30 seconds? Then it's over. And if, while you're doing it, you become obsessed with the end of it, that spoils the joy of the experience.

Neither the characters Delpy nor Hawke play are people I'd want to hang out with much. Hawke is a dork, and not very clever. Delpy is too neurotic and careful not to let go. But that's beside the point. The movie does a hell of a job making it believable that they'd be madly in love. The movie is profound, but it seems simple. It's less than an hour and a half and it is one long conversation. Not everything they say is interesting to me, but it's interesting to them. And that was good enough.

Of course, it's a Richard Linklater movie, and like his other movies, he makes his characters spell out themes that would be better acted out. He's obsessed with big ideas and having characters say them to show us all he's thinking about them. That's the movie's only major drawback, though. Before Sunset is not necessarily romantic because it doesn't sugarcoat the messy entanglements inevitably people get themselves into, but I guess it's a good movie for people who think about romance. It made me feel sort of nice and sad, and that's a pretty good second to horny and sad in my book. It's like Luna's song "Sleeping Pill", or the story "Rebecca Lizard" by Donald Barthelme, and that's pretty fucking good company. Four Fingers.

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Filthy's Reading
Charles M. Schulz - Complete Peanuts 1950-52

Listening to
Luna - Bewitched


Before Sunrise