by Sandra Courtland
A quiet post-apocalyptic love story that uses Ethiopian landscapes as its setting and treats items of pop-culture and consumerism (Michael Jackson vinyl, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy, plastic sword) as ancient relics. Candy and Birdy live in a dilapidated bowling alley. Birdy stays at home while Candy ventures off, the opening scene finding him running from a Nazi-costumed masked man with a plastic ray gun in order to bring back a faux-Christmas tree for Birdy. When the ball lift starts back up again by itself, they believe it has something to do with the spaceship that has also become recently active, the only object seen floating in an otherwise empty sky. Candy sets out to
Spanish director Miguel Llansó is able to milk all the surreality from Ethiopian locations not having to do much to augment for the illusion of a time post-apocalypse save for the CGI spaceship floating in the sky, constantly turning in the distance. Llansó achieves great atmosphere on a miniscule budget.
The crumbs of the film are used to show transcendence for the characters. By stripping reference points for the characters they can fully pray to shrine adorned with bowling pins, Coke bottles, and a framed picture of Michael Jordan in the center. For the audience, who do have reference points for these crumbs, it’s hard to tell how much humor is supposed to be derived from these moments and how to engage with them as a something that has been defamiliarized. Character believe that they can seriously do battle with plastic guns and swords and the man who runs a pawn shop and collects these crumbs will tell stories of the historical importance of TMNT figurines as trinkets for warriors. Is the thesis that these items will hold more significance once its context is gone? Or will these objects always find some sort of worship whether through modern consumption/entertainment or literal worship? Like Candy’s search for Santa Claus, not much is found out once he gets there.
You wish more time was spent with Birdy, we see her daydream and kneel before the shrine of Jordan (Bulls era, not the Wizards) multiple times. Her only interactions are through the ball lift with the voice of Santa Claus who seems to have some illicit intentions towards her. The back and forth between her and Candy is not even enough, but both interact with these crumbs in their own ways.
At barely over an hour in length Crumbs is an easy film to check out without letting a two hour plus time commitment cloud any judgement of the film. Ethiopia is not featured too heavily in the international film scene let alone the sci-fi genre so give this one a shot.
Crumbs plays Thursday, November 5, 7:15 pm; Friday, November 6, 6:15 pm; Saturday, November 7, 9:00 pm; Sie FilmCenter.
Sandra Courtland is a contributor to Cinema Adrift. She is currently saving up to go back to Italy for holiday.