THE TIME BEING | DVD REVIEW

A little while back Kernel John reviewed a little C grade horror film called SCARECROW from independant DVD distributor EAGLE ENTERTAINMENT, well we just realised there was a second film on the review disc and thought we would review it, because it’s what we do 🙂 THE TIME BEING is quite different from SCARECROW but I will leave that all to Kernel John. THE TIME BEING is out now to rent or buy on DVD, os rate M and runs for 89mins. All the best…….JK

 

 

THE TIME BEING BLU RAY COVER IMAGE
THE TIME BEING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | THE BLU RAY COVER

 

REVIEW BY JOHN MCPARLAND

The art of writing a narrative is a fairly simple process. Though the individual minutia within a story can be infinitely complex to create, the overall structure of a tale pretty much remains the same, no matter the author, context, genre, or medium. You have an introduction, a complication or two, a resolution, and a conclusion. Generally, you set the scene, throw in a problem, get the heroes to solve the dilemma (or all get killed off DAWN OF THE DEAD style – in which case the problem becomes a moot point), then everybody celebrates by getting drunk and eating cake. Some authors play with the order of these parts, as displayed in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of ROMEO + JULIET, where Shakespeare reveals the play’s conclusion at the very start. However, these reordering occurrences are rare in film or literature, with the vast majority of stories following the above format.

 

THE TIME BEING IMAGE
THE TIME BEING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | WARNER DAX (FRANK LANGELLA) AND DANIEL (WES BENTLEY)

 

There is a reason for this. This structured approach lays fundamental groundwork that an audience needs to quickly figure out what is going on. It then builds suspense by challenging the protagonist. Gets you right in the feels when our hero overcomes adversity. Then shows you that all is right in the world by ending with cake. I mean, who does not like cake? If you mess with any part of this writing template then people get confused, agitated, and potentially violent. After all, how much bloodshed could have been averted if the original introduction to the Bible was shipped with the final copy? Genesis, with its whole getting kicked out of Eden thing, is actually the first of many complications in the book, along with its associated resolutions and an apocalyptic conclusion (yay, cake!… in heaven). The introduction for the Bible is actually a one page disclaimer now lost in time that went something along the lines of “What follows is a general history of society and people as they followed the customs of the era in which they lived. Not to be taken out of context, in a literal manner, or transplanted verbatim 2000 years into the future without appropriate updating, editing, and assessment.” You do not ever mess with the narrative template!

THE TIME BEING disobeys the entire history of the written word by messing with the narrative template, and massive disappointment ensues. Nenad Cicin-Sain writes and directs this art based film in his first feature length production. It stars Wes Bentley (AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE HUNGER GAMES) as struggling artist Daniel and Frank Langella (FROST/NIXON) as grumpy old man Warner. The film has an introduction in as much as it has a beginning, but very little scene is actually laid out. The opening sequences were so vague and uninformative that they would have been right at home in the middle of any other film, once the audience knew what was going on. Eventually you pick up on what is happening and who people are, but so little backstory is revealed in the film that you are left wondering why anyone is doing whatever it is they are doing.

 

THE TIME BEING IMAGE
THE TIME BEING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | DANIEL (WES BENTLEY)

 

Speaking of the why, the film moves from the introduction into an hour or so of dull nothingness, before stumbling across a weak revelation, then abruptly ending. The complication and resolution segments never really manifest at all, at least not in any believable way. We are meant to think that Daniel cannot make ends meet because no one wants to buy his paintings. But, the film explains that Daniel has a day job to cover his expenses, so the paintings should be the icing on the proverbial conclusion worthy cake, no? So, off he goes to work for Warner to earn a little extra cash on the side in the hope that his stay at home wife can continue to stay at home instead of being forced to earn her share of the household crust by doing some gardening for the neighbour (seriously). Apparently, we have a family that is on Struggle Street because the husband’s hobby is not raking in the cash and the wife does not want to get her hands dirty potting the Jones’s flowers. Eventually, Daniel is spending so much time with Warner (four visits total), that he is fired from work and his wife leaves him because he is never home to be with her or their son. After a few sick days and a late night out, everything in Daniel’s world falls apart. This is what passes for complication in THE TIME BEING, though it sounds much more like an overreaction to the mundane to me. Also, by movie’s end, none of these issues really gets resolved.

The conclusion revolves around a completely new character who is only really introduced in the final act. Daniel takes a backseat by the end of the film, acting in no greater capacity than an intermediary between two other characters. Just when I started to focus on Daniel and his faux problems with no discernable resolution efforts, the film throws in another random, has a ridiculous Shyamalan style “reveal” then ends without actually ending anything.

Both Bentley and Langella’s performances are listless and bland, though Langella has one redeeming scene just before the film’s end. Cinematically, the film is beautifully shot, using many art style techniques in its production. Scenes make wonderful use of reflections as well as differing levels of focus, bringing the foreground into sharp resolution, while blurring the background to a greater extent than one normally sees in film, as if the audience member is viewing a painting or still photograph. The plays on light and shadow also offer stark contrast to each other, highlighting important aspects of a scene by bringing them to the centre of attention in remarkable detail.

 

THE TIME BEING IMAGE
THE TIME BEING | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | WARNER DAX (FRANK LANGELLA) AND DANIEL (WES BENTLEY)

 

The vast majority of non-dialogue scenes are also filmed from static cameras, with rapid transitions between cuts to display movement or the passage of time. This is a technique I normally do not enjoy watching, as the lack of camera movement robs the scene of depth, forcing the actors to work even harder to make a particular scenario come alive. However, this film succeeds in its endeavour to embrace the still image art style, by not crowding out these static scenes with half a dozen actors, but instead uses them to display landscapes, settings, exteriors, and dialogue-less character headshots. It is a superb piece of cinematography that is gorgeously portrayed, but sadly does little to save a plotless film.

In the end, THE TIME BEING, while beautifully shot and edited, is a pointless film that never really starts or goes anywhere, before it abruptly ends. It just is. And what it is, is not much at all. I never really understood the film’s title, but in the general sense, the phrase refers to a “a lesser substitute;” what one must do in place of doing something much better, as in “there is nothing good on television, so I will watch this bland art film for the time being.” Enjoy it for its production, emotive music, and art pieces, but take the above advice to heart.

 

2 Pops