Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The week before last, we caught the Israeli film Antarctica, an amusing though at times confusing slice of gay life in Tel Aviv. We meet a bunch of characters and watch how their paths cross, as the men all meet one another through online hook-ups and the women all meet in a popular coffee shop. The film opens with a clever visual of the screen divided into four quadrants, and scenes of a guy's apartment move across the quadrants, meeting a new guy at the door, inviting him in, messing around, kicking him out, getting dressed for work; lather, rinse, repeat. The visual is a clever way to tell a story about one guy's revolving door sex life. The film is very much an ensemble story, though the character who is the "Kevin Bacon" of this one-and-a-half degrees of separation network is a gay man with a lesbian sister and with their mother played by a drag queen (but unironically, as in Hairspray). By the end, he's dated or slept with most of the other male characters, and those he's dated or slept with have dated or slept with the rest. You have to pay close attention though, because after we meet half the characters in the first 15 minutes, there's a "three years later" fast-forward, at which point we meet new characters and the ones we've already met have new haircuts. (I had a couple of the characters mixed up for two-thirds of the film.) The women have their relationship issues too, but that's a lesser running subplot. We see a lot more of the men (double-entendre intended). There are also a couple of bizarre subplots. One of the women in a lesbian once (and future?) couple has some fascination with Antarctica, as in "I had to break up with you, because you wouldn't come with me if I decided I wanted to move to Antarctica". Or something like that. It may have been a clever metaphor for something, being the title of the film and all, but all I could think of was Harper Pitt, the pill-popping Mormon wife in Angels in America, who had similar Antarctic fantasies. The other bizarre subplot concerns a bunch of UFO fanatics who are convinced that the aliens are going to land in Rabin Square on Friday night. (Silly people. Don't they know that aliens would be prohibited from landing in Israel on the Sabbath?) Perhaps the UFOers were meant as a metaphorical comment on guys looking for love through online hook-ups. In any case, these quirky elements come together to make a satisfactorally amusing film.