Short feature: Der Lauf der Dinge (“The Way Things Go”, Germany, 1987), directed by Peter Fischli and David Weiss.

Feature Presentation: El Otro Lado de la Cama (“The Other Side of the Bed”, Spain, 2002), directed by Emilio Martínez Lázaro.

Jochen (the very first faculty presenter, despite the superannuity of Cinema 1544!) started us out with a German short that didn’t even need subtitles.  It’s essentially a 30-minute long Rube-Goldbergian series of cause and effect, laid out in a large warehouse.

And after tipping the container, the balloon is going to go visit Billy!

Imagine 30 minutes of this, but keep in mind that despite that, it’s pretty cool.  Given the vast number of chemical reactions involved (dump reagent 1 into a vat of reagent 2) I wonder if the directors weren’t chemists.  And given the number of explosions and fires, I’m convinced they were pyromaniacs.  It is probably a good thing for me, for my parents, and for the residents of my hometown that I did not see this movie while in junior high.  Because there probably would have been casualties.

The Other Side of the Bed was perhaps equally complicated, but in a very different way.  My final thoughts as the film ended were that this movie is what William Shakespeare would have written in comedy mode had he lived in the modern day.  He couldn’t have gotten away with this back then, but obviously it flies today.  I think you’ll see what I mean as I go through the plot (quickly, because with this one, you either hit the highlights or get stuck on the details.

Just be happy I'm not Ike Turner!

Here is happy couple #1: Javier and Sonia.  Sonia loves Javier, but he’s trying to subtly hint to her his intention to break up.

Sleepy and Bashful aren't the only dwarfs here...

Here is happy couple #2: Pedro and Paula.  As the movie starts, Pedro is visitng Javier and Sonia to explain that Paula has left him for another man.  Javier opines that it’s probably her old boyfriend.  Pedro rejects this theory because the old boyfriend turned out to be gay.  But what Pedro did not suspect was this:

Mentos!

The other man is Javier!  Javier, in the midst of a pretty good scene, is naturally being a bit tardy in telling Sonia that it’s over.  But when he manages to secretly finagle a (disastrous) weekend away with Paula…

What's the matter, yellow?

Pedro unwittingly returns the favor!  (Not that he didn’t know what he was, erm, doing, just that he didn’t know it was payback.)  But when Javier returns to find that Sonia has spent the night away from home, he symmetrically brings his problems to Pedro, who symmetrically deflects attention from himself by claiming that Sonia had stayed over at a female friend’s house – a female friend who also happens to be a lesbian.  Needless to say, both men suspect their girlfriends of cheating on them (Paula has gone back to Pedro after the weekend with Javier), yet both are cheating on their girlfriends.  Eventually both of them figure out the score, which leads to a little tension over a regular tennis game.

Don't even try to tap out, bud, it ain't going to work!

Naturally, being guilty of the same offense, neither particularly feels like openly confronting the other, and the happy ending of the film is both couples reunited, both couples getting a little on the side, everybody thinking they’re getting away with it, but only the girls in the dark.

Because I have four years of Spanish in my distant past, I did a reasonable job of following this film without subtitles, and it’s always fun to compare the actual text with the subs.  There was a pretty notable undertranslation during one of their doubles tennis games.

Subtitled version – Opponent: “That hit was three meters out!”  Pedro: “Bullshit!”

Actual version – Opponent: “That hit was three meters out!”  Pedro: “My BALLS are three meters!”

Why they didn’t follow through on that translation, I have no idea.

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