Back from hiatus: Brand New Testament and our first encore

At Carbon Arc, the three weeks of hiatus (as the museum was otherwise busy with its own programming) were mostly filled with a lot of planning, and as I described in my last post, a little bowling.

We’ve had some trouble lately landing the movies we really want to show—including a prominent cancellation, also detailed last time—so we’re having to look a little farther and wider to fill the schedule of films through April.

But we will, have no doubt. Expect to get schedule confirmations in the coming few days. And more Carbon Arc Profiles to be posted.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about short films as I have tasked myself with writing a short script. I’m now considering repurposing some older material I have in the drawer, turning a creative idea from another format into a short film—pulling what I call a “Spalding Gray,” named after the actor/essayist/monologist whose creative struggles frequently inspired his other work down the road.

 
Multi-hyphenate artist Spalding Grey

Multi-hyphenate artist Spalding Grey

 

But more about that soon.

On Good Friday we had two sell-outs, for both our 7pm screening and our 9:30pm screening. That’s never happened before! Thank you so much to all who came. As Carbon Arc programmer Kendra Barnes reminds us: never worry about people showing up to movies on statutory holidays. They always do.

 
God sits down to a family dinner in The Brand New Testament

God sits down to a family dinner in The Brand New Testament

 

The first feature was The Brand New Testament. It’s a recent Belgian comedy—co-produced with France and Luxembourg. The timing of showing a film shot in Brussels wasn’t lost on us, given all that happened in the Belgian capital this week. Screening one of the nation’s films this week seemed like the right thing, like the least we could do. Celebrate art and storytelling and laughter.

The film is a delight. It’s a comedic fantasy written and directed by Jaco Van Dormael, imagining a reality where God is an asshole living in a three-bedroom apartment in Brussels with his wife and 10-year-old daughter, Ea. The daughter narrates; she explains her father’s small-minded tyranny, how he likes to complicate the lives of human beings. Ea escapes, but not before sabotaging Dad’s computer and releasing the date and time of death to everyone in the world. The film then suggests that most people, knowing when death would come for them, would furiously pursue their bucket-list goals, no matter how peculiar. Or perverse.

Ea then takes it upon herself to find six new apostles and have them tell their stories, recorded in a notebook.

The picture has a rambling, episodic structure, a beautiful, sunshiny perspective. The humour doesn’t quite sustain the promise of that amazing trailer, but a wonderful sense of whimsy pervades. Imagine Amelie crossed with Heaven Can Wait or Bruce Almighty, and you might get close to what happens here. Its satirical charm had many people chuckling in the Carbon Arc audience, which is a refreshing sound, given the many more serious films we’ve screened lately.

 
Embrace of the Serpent sold out our theatre for a second time.

Embrace of the Serpent sold out our theatre for a second time.

 

The later screening was an encore of Embrace of the Serpent. The first time we showed the film we wildly underestimated its popularity, and had to turn away dozens. Thanks to the efforts of our director, Siloën Daley, we were able to show it a second time to another full house. This is a feature film as an epic journey. Go here for my more detailed thoughts, but I’m thrilled we had a chance to share it with another audience.

After the screening, one of our regular attendees and I had a discussion about culture, and how our lives in North America are consumed with material, with stuff, and how it’s easy to imagine a more authentic kind of life in the jungle, being profoundly connected with your surroundings, the plant and animal life all around. Embrace of the Serpent inspires that kind of thought.

Next Friday, April 1, we screen a “lost” Studio Ghibli film, Only Yesterday, at 7pm and 9:30pm. And we have a Saturday screening this week as well, a collection of stellar international commercials.

See you at the cinema.