When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism Screen 26 articles

When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism


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  • Porumboiu's prior Police, Adjective, one of the finest features of recent years, was a distinctively minimalist policier that concluded with an epic conversational standoff. When Evening Fallsmakes abundant use of talky long takes, and in a way that no longer feels necessary or even experimental. To be sure, the last thing we needed from a director as appreciably talented as Porumboiu was a kind of mission statement—much less a retroactive one.

  • In Când se lasă seara peste Bucureşti sau metabolism (When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism), Corneliu Porumboiu follows one of art cinema’s familiar tacks, that of a self-reflexive rumination on filmmaking itself, but only the beginning and ending turn truly engaging.

  • Languages, with their own built-in rules, govern each realization, and thus we are guided to seeWhen Evening Falls as a parody of itself, of the languages it uses to convey its ideas. The film, however, feels a bit too carefully catered to a critical community already attuned to the specific tropes... running through the brief Romanian New Wave lineage, which has the adverse effect of making the film seem closed-in, incapable of delivering more human (read: less cinephile-targeted) pleasures.

  • The film is comprised of only 18 shots (each a meticulous, often tedious long take) and features lengthy discussions between the duo on topics ranging from the differences between film and digital to the authenticity of a nude scene they’re supposed to shoot. It’s like a meandering 90-minute lecture that leaves you with little more than glazed eyes and a sore backside.

  • Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu’s film was shot on 35mm, but the interiors are so deliberately drab – there are very few glimpses of the outdoors – that its use of the grade becomes reflexively purposeless. When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism is a film that doesn’t even want to be a film, and its pain-staking conversations bear this out.

  • There's an awareness in the film of the Romanian New Wave, with Porumboiu poking fun at this master shot, long take style, appropriating it to anemically cinematic settings and scenes... The technique is a conceptual exercise that can really go nowhere. What does it add to cinema? Nothing; but When Evening Falls on Bucharest is a sort of perfect record of a strange time in the world of cinema where the rules of the game stay the same even as the game itself changes...

  • “When you’re filming, you put what interests you in the center, not at the margin,” a doctor tells Paul as they stare at video images of his endoscopy. The director shrugs and walks away—a reaction many had to Porumboiu’s film. However, its careful architecture and one particular dinner scene involving Chinese food left me more than satisfied.

  • I could watch these circular discussions for hours, and I think that, unlike [Porumboiu's] other films (where the word games represent the total lack of focus of labyrinthine bureaucratic systems) the self-involvement here is focused inward, and consequently pushed to a maximum level of irrelevance, a focus that’s brilliantly counterpoised by matching 80 minutes of intense navel-gazing with climactic footage of the director’s endoscopy, itself possibly a bit of counterfeit fiction.

  • ...When Evening Falls on Bucharest, or Metabolism is lighter than the director’s previous international release, Police, Adjective, but is itself a collection of small delights. The plot setups lead next-to-nowhere: the suggestions of mystery or a surprise second-half fizzle in a happily unpredictable way.

  • If Porumboiu has indeed made a film that questions his own methods, there is certainly a strong ambivalence on display toward his main character and potential surrogate. And yet Porumboiu’s film conveys his narrative in this practiced style nonetheless, and with striking nuance and wit. Where does the filmmaker go from here? ...Paul might be limited by his own attitudes, but Porumboiu seems like a filmmaker who could head in infinite directions.

  • A very clever movie that peters out slightly - the final scenes aren't as pointed as the equivalents in Police, Adjective; to my shame, I actually missed the implications of the reshoots till alerted by others - but does offer the best director-as-bullshit-artist this side of Hong Sang-soo (even his endoscopy is fake; it's "strangely filmed," notes a bemused medic).

  • The film is uneven but often fascinating. Its extreme talkiness sometimes hampers it. A scene where Paul and Alina discuss the intricacies of how she should get dressed becomes interminable. However, the conversations are always relevant to filmmaking, even when they don’t appear to have any direct connection.

  • Porumboiu keeps his cards very close to his vest with these deadpan performances—a far cry from the buffoonery in his other films—and with lengthy debates, at dinner and in cars, that vacillate between playful and pedantic.

  • ...All the above might suggest that When Evening Falls is an outré comedy, or generally confrontational in nature. If it is a comedy, however, it’s so dry and detached that the humor is virtually subliminal, and the film is certainly anything but aggressive. This is the most contemplative of the Romanian director’s fiction features so far.

  • Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu has a wry sense of humor, which prevents this oddball meta-exercise from seeming overly academic... At times, Porumboiu’s mix of repetition and resignation recalls Samuel Beckett, and if the overall result is more of a clever exercise than a proper movie, it’ll still have some dryly amusing appeal for those who appreciate intellectual absurdism.

  • Paul and Alina, romantically involved, dissemble frequently. He strains to rationalize the nude scene. She feigns ignorance when they meet another director whose work she admires. Even footage of an endoscopy, as gruesomely intimate as a movie can get, fails to settle a question (of whether Paul is lying about a digestive ailment). “You can think what you like,” Paul says. That sentiment applies to Mr. Porumboiu’s dryly funny, enigmatic new work.

  • The film goes on leaving its camera almost immobile, filling the screen with its actors who—in an amazing tour de force—keep the entire film alive and vibrating by filling almost twenty scenes with nothing but natural-seeming and perfectly staged conversations.

  • Corneliu Porumboiu cemented his status as the most original voice in the new Romanian cinema with "When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism," a rigorously elliptical film about filmmaking (and the power dynamics within the process), set during a movie shoot but only when the cameras aren't rolling.

  • With the dry wit of his shrewdly repressed long takes, Porumboiu puts dialectic front and center and speculates on the artistic implications of digital technology, even as he turns to medical imaging for some outrageously moist comedy

  • At once a microcosmic expression of frustration and another of auto-critique, When Evening Falls devilishly recalls and riffs on seemingly shapeless conversations between its very small ensemble of characters without succumbing to soporific navel-gazing.

  • ...The strongest, subtlest movie I’ve seen so far in the NYFF Main Slate... Porumbiou, last seen here with “Police, Adjective” is a theoretically minded filmmaker with an extremely dry sense of humor. A movie about the making of an unmade movie, “When Evening Falls” is a film that you watch between the lines—or rather the shots, of which there are only 18.

  • It’s a playful, dense, and deeply critical entry in the New Romanian Cinema... That Porumboiu takes the seriousness of his movement’s aesthetic and turns in into a maze of flirtatious deception makes When Evening Fall on Bucharest or Metabolism a deeply meta confession of cinematic imperfection. Aside from Jafar Panahi’s masterpiece Closed Curtain, there might not have been a braver film at AFI FEST this year.

  • While Porumboiu claims inspiration from Hong Sang-soo, Rohmer and Fellini, I can not help but feel that the film’s dialogues owe more, if anything, to the work of Larry David: one exchange in particular, about the penis ruining the capacity for men to be aesthetically pleasing when naked, seems lifted straight out of Curb Your Enthusiasm (and I say this as a form of unadulterated praise, great fan of the show that I am).

  • Porumboiu’s mise en scène at once evinces both mastery and mischievousness. Rather than devolve into novelty or, worse yet, parody, When Evening Falls re-engages its own aesthetic constituents with meta-analytic verve, the alchemical addendum of its full title suggesting a self-sustaining cinematic schema that Porumboiu turns into a game of technical and temporal sleight of hand.

  • All of this might sound a bit … chilly, perhaps. It is, but it isn’t. It’s a rigorous intellectual exercise, a lampoon of the Romanian film industry, a rather realistic look (actually) at how a director and an actress stumble their way through a scripted scene, questioning every piece of blocking, questioning the emotional motivations behind every gesture.

  • Porumboiu’s aesthetic, his self-imposed limitations, and the single-minded narrowness of his perspective give Metabolism a unique kind of expansiveness. They allow the filmmaking process to deepen and project outward in the viewer’s mind, both as Paul and Alina’s many ambiguous silences play out on-screen and even, maybe especially, in the hours, days, and months after experiencing them.

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