The Multiverse Of Mr Ezban
I have limited interest in the Academy Awards (in hindsight their choices are often dubious) and tend to prefer Cannes for the wealth of world cinema it chucks up each year. So I’m desperate to see this year’s winner, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite’, about a poor family of tricksters who find jobs with a wealthy family. He’s an unclassifiable director who’ll switch from dreamy arthouse to hi-tech thriller without a care.
Festival films are their own beasts, and live in a world largely separate from mainstream popular films, but many countries blur the lines, especially Korea, Mexico and Spain. Certain tropes emerge in Spanish language films; love of the gothic, strong women, noir suspense (in films like ‘El Cuerpo’, ‘Wild Tales’, ‘Sleep Tight’, ‘May God Save Us’ and ‘Blind Alley’) romantic supernatural and lately time travel, in ‘Triangle’, ‘Timecrimes’, ‘The Ministry of Time’ and ‘During the Storm’.
Into these genres, heavily influenced by old Twilight Zone episodes and Alfred Hitchcock, comes Isaac Ezban, whose films play out like old paperbacks you find in a junk shop. Ultimately ‘The Similars’ feels very indebted to a famous episode of Twilight Zone but has its own aesthetic, as a group of would-be passengers wait for a bus that never arrives in a rainswept night bus station and start to physically morph into one another, while a child discovers he can control the world. It doesn’t entirely work but there’s something interesting here.
‘El Incidente’ begins with a startling image – an ancient bride lying dead on an escalator – and gets stranger as brothers menaced by a cop get trapped in an everlasting staircase. At the same time, a desperate family in a car find themselves trapped on a road looping on forever. But the idea of time loops is pushed further when we pick up all the characters 35 years later, when they’re all still trapped and reconciled to living their lives out in interconnected time loops. The message; Be careful when you choose which path to take in life.
Ezban’s films have their clunky moments – his explanations need work – but he has a curious ability to make you stay with him long after the budget has been used up, and he’s developing his own twisted worldview, which appears to involve a multiverse of options and choices open to his protagonists. His first English language film, ‘Parallel’, opens the multiverse further into other dimensions, and is out now.
Which brings me to ask; what’s the oddest film you’ve seen and liked?