March 19, 2006

MOVIES: Duck Season (Fernando Eimbcke, 2004 / US 2006)

Flama and Moko (Daniel Miranda and Diego Cataña) are 14. They're best friends, and they've got Flama's apartment all to themselves for a long Sunday afternoon on pizza, Coke, and video games. But then the power goes out, and Rita (Danny Perea), the 16-year-old from down the hall shows up wanting to use the oven to bake a cake, and Ulises the pizza guy (Enrique Arreola) refuses to leave because the boys won't pay him for the pizza (he was, by their watch, eleven seconds late).

So these four people are stuck in the apartment together with not much to do. Not much really happens in Duck Season, but there's an awful lot happening in all of that "not much." It's a movie about kids about to begin the journey to adulthood and an adult who finally acknowledges that he's finished that journey.

It's a tender comedy, and much of the humor comes from Eimbcke's calm, deadpan camera style. With the exception of a brief flashback scene, the camera never moves. We fade in on a scene; the scene plays out; we slowly fade out, then fade in on a new scene. There are entire scenes -- some short, but some surprisingly long -- with little or no dialogue, built around the physical timing and facial expressions of the four talented actors.

This isn't a big, flashy movie; it's quiet, bittersweet, and contemplative. It's Eimbcke's first full-length film, and it's a confident debut; I look forward to seeing what he'll do next.

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