Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Don't Know Who You Are Anymore

Directed By Mark Rappaport

Mark Rappaport’s "Imposters" is about two magicians who claim to be twin brothers plotting to steal an ancient Egyptian artifact, while sporting matching male pattern baldness, mustaches, and outfits of all sorts.
Yes, that is one of the things this movie is certainly about, but there is much, much, more. The magicians have a female assistant, and she is having an affair with one of the brothers, who believes her to be in possession of the object. I’m a bit foggy as to whether or not she really did have the artifact. Certainly an item did appear on screen, but as to whose it was or whether it was authentic, I can’t recall, probably because it wasn’t the point. The artifact is a mcGuffin, serving to bring our characters together, and is all but forgotten about by the end. The magicians assistant begins having an affair with a wealthy eccentric she meets one night after a show, partly out of impulse and partly because she has nowhere else to live. The wealthy man enjoys photographing all of the women he romances with their faces a few inches away from each other, “as if we were just about kiss”. The magician’s other brother falls in lust with the wealthy man dating the assistant. The assistant also had a relationship with a woman involved in performance art, as well as a band called “I’ve Got My Shit Together”, which involves the title being repeated an the chorus in a Joan Jett kind of way. At one point all of these characters end up at a large house together, and there is a kind of Mexican stand-off of awkward and amorous glances, similar to Claire Denis’ “35 Rhums” bar-room scene (that film’s finest moment). There is less voice-over narration than in Rappaport’s previous “The Scenic Route”, and one continual character’s feelings and emotions to focus on might have improved some of the film’s unfocused feeling. The Scenic Route was full of asides and musings, but it was a controlled sprawl, where Imposter’s sometimes feels more like a sketch or a scrawl. Love, betrayal, honesty, and notions of identity (and this time around sexuality), are again the central themes and plot devices which move the characters in between Rappaport’s painted backgrounds and nuanced art decorum. The murderous twin’s bicker back and forth to each other like a vaudeville act, one of them clearly the flaming witty gay (and more sociopathic) of the pair, while the straight one is also the duo's straight man, preferring to only kill out of necessity, and more emotional over his latest target than he should be. He once nearly married a princess, til his partner killed her, claiming she was set to turn them in. The brother’s bickering and care free crime spree, is the dark comic skeleton of the film, while the story of the wealthy eccentric and the assistant is the films emotional heart. The assistant does seem to become genuinely happy or at least resigned to happiness with the man, but he is perpetually jealous of others he belives her to be involved with, both correctly and incorrectly.The accuracy of his claims however, is as immaterial as whether or not the Egyptian artifact is priceless or a trinket, his fears of abandonment, like the brother’s murderous swath of new and assumed identity’s, is pathological. Both groups of men can seem only capable of wanting what they can’t have, and when they can have it, must destroy it to again make it unattainable. The assistant is uncertain at times, as to what she really wants, going back and forth between them all, but she certainly doesnt want to alienate or destroy them. She resolves to a decision that makes allot of sense in this context, and all of the stories play out with little surprise, but Rappaport films make their surprises a part of their sets, dialog, editing, art and costume design, and only mildly as part of their plots. If you haven’t seen any Mark Rappaport “The Scenic Route” is to my feeble knowledge, the best place to start, but “Imposters” is a great follow-up to Rappaport’s filmography which continues, try as I might, to defy description.

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