Blesok no. 57, November-December, 2007
– or, how difficult it is to make a (good) movie –
Immediately after the premiere screening of Upside Down in Bitola, the author of the novel The Navel of the World and co-author of the movie script, Venko Andonovski, told me: “It’s difficult for me to speak about something that I have signed under too… I have experienced this movies as an emergency plane landing.”
The Upside Down project had all the necessary attributes to create a solid art product from its development phase. There was The Navel of the World of Venko Andonovski – one of the most significant novels of the contemporary Macedonian prose, winner of the prestigious Balkanika award, there was Igor Ivanov, who had obtained a reputation of a serious and inventive author with his previous work (Subway and NEP), there was a team whose composition implied high professional level in the making of the movie. Many of these assumptions have been incorporated in the movie, so we can say that it is a movie with integrity and suggestive author’s mark. Still, a more detailed analysis will also show some semi-nuances which are a result of certain difficulties in the compilation of the final version.
ACT ONE - NARRATION Upside Down is quite a decent movie. Just as a reminder, the film, as no other narrative art, requires a precise, consistent and first of all, stylistically clear narrative line that will take us to the grand finale. Reading a book, we resolve any possible ambiguities by re-reading a passage or a page. With a movie, even a blink of an eye can be crucial, and what has been missed or misunderstood can only be compensated by watching the whole movie again (this only concerns cinema screenings, rather than DVD watching). So, the initial dilemmas concern the diffusion of the narrative structure of the action. The problem is not in the time that is upside-down, nor in the flesh back sequences, but in the time dosages of their duration. In other words, the category of time, or duration, seems to have gone out of control. The textual matrix, seems to have lost the necessary tension and suggestiveness in its movie variant, as if prolonging for too long the hinted resolution and catharsis. Still, the excellent solution of the movie finale partially covers of hides previous “shortcomings”.
ACT TWO - REALIZATION As far as directing and production is concerned, Upside-Down is more than a decent movie. The authors (director, cinematographer, and music author) knew exactly what they were doing. The few remarks concern the sequences that could have been resolved in a more inventive way and avoid the feeling of déjà vu. The cameramen work is an example of consequency and visual consistanecy in the course of the whole movie. The balanced gamma of colour and light, as well as the extravagance of the scenes with trapeze acrobat give the movie an excellently attractive dimension. Music is another one of Upside Down’s qualities, especially Spasovski’s piece where, with an excellent feeling of thematic illustration, the discrete music stresses are given in dosages, without unnecessary flirting and picks, precisely, skilfully, both in time and dynamics. The editing is fully in function of the concept of the movie, although some dynamics would have a bigger effect in some parts of the movie.
ACT THREE - ACTORS According to the casting, Upside-Down is more or less a decent movie. After his extraordinary performance in the movie How I Killed a Saint, Milan Tocinovski has become an actor with an auto-referential image, an urban rebel and an appealing bloke with social and “political” problems. Tocinovski has almost the same profile of a “hero” in the character of Ian in Upside-Down. He is excellent in broad and close-ups, with a precise and most often spontaneous mime in all moods. Unfortunately, his partner Sanja Trajković in the role of Lucia seems not to be the right choice for the leading female role. Very insecure, at times narcissistic and without honest emotions, Lucia is far from the character of Andonovski’s novel. Explicit eroticism, beautiful shooting do not help in defining of her character, and Trajković is experience as a fashion girl lost from another story. The other characters are as good as the story and director ask them to be.
ACT FOUR - IMPRESSIONS When we sort out our emotions at the end, Upside-Down is still a good movie. At times it is exciting, at times hard, at times stretched, at times funny… and it seems to have the sense and vision of the time of the Yugoslav black wave, with a maximum pessimism and minimum hope, the anti-heroes that we love after they die, women as decoration of events, dark shade transitions, black and white in colour… There is no sin here, but there seems not to be a new idea as well, as if there is a new ray of light missing for the generation that us yet to face their own future.
Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska