This companion piece to “Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet,” which premiered earlier this year at Cannes, is very much the same mixture. Concept is to allow several well-known Euro art directors complete freedom to make a short film running exactly 10 minutes on any subject and in any style. The format is better suited to TV and ancillary than to cinema release (“Trumpet” aired on Showtime in the U.S.), though festivals will want to program both films despite the uneven quality of the material.
In “Cello,” Czech director Jiri Menzel produces the most telling contribution, triumphing over the formula to make an extremely simple tribute to his friend, late actor Rudolf Hrusinsky. Consisting simply of scenes from films in which Hrusinsky appeared during his long career, “One Moment” is an eloquent testament to the ravages of time as the handsome young man, captured on film over a long period, morphs into a middle-aged and finally very old man before our eyes. Simple concept is filled with humanity and a touching sense of vulnerability, plus Menzel’s trademark sense of humor.
Jean-Luc Godard’s “In the Darkness of Time” uses film clips from his work and others to illustrate the finality of a number of aspects of life. “The last minutes of youth” are illustrated by the scene of Jean-Pierre Leaud’s death in “Made in U.S.A.,” for example, and “The last minutes of silence” depicts the torture scene from “The Little Soldier.” As always, the indelible image of Anna Karina, weeping, in “Vivre sa vie” provides an achingly poignant moment, but Godard isn’t saying anything here he hasn’t said before.
Istvan Szabo contributes a beautifully filmed but rather pointless anecdote, which shows how little time it takes to change the direction of someone’s life. A woman (Ildiko Bansagi) awaits the return home of her husband (Gabor Mate) for a birthday celebration; he arrives drunk and there’s a fatal confrontation. Lajos Koltai’s fluid camerawork is the principal pleasure here.
Bernardo Bertolucci’s segment, which kicks off the film, depicts the passing of time as based on an Indian story. A group of Indians walk through the Italian countryside; a young man leaves an old man sitting under a tree and goes to get water but is waylaid when he meets a woman. They fall in love, marry, have a son, and years go by — but the old man still waits under the tree for his water.
Michael Radford’s sci-fi seg also plays with the notion of time; after a long voyage into space, an astronaut returns home to discover he’s now younger than his son.
Mike Figgis provides another of his four-screen presentations, but the innovative director seems to have painted himself into a corner with this style of experimental video-making and provides nothing new here.
Volker Schlondorff, inspired by Augustinus (354-430 A.D.), tells an anecdote about racism, but the points are handled without much finesse.
In the weakest seg, Claire Denis films an argument about immigration on a train in which a philosopher debates the subject with one of his students. Very dry, very French.
While none of the famous names featured here is at his or her best, it’s always interesting to see what they’ll come up with in this kind of format. The segments are separated by images of water accompanied by plaintive cello music (in comparison to the original mix’s jazzy trumpet), and all eight are professional packaged.