Bong Jon-ho, Mother, 2009, still from a color film in 35 mm, 2 hours, 9 minutes. Do-joon (Won Bin).


JET LAG, LACK OF SLEEP, watching four to six films a day, trying to remember how to conjugate the passé composé: All can contribute to a certain sense of losing one’s grip, of not being able to separate dream and waking life. Did I really see a festooned baby elephant marching down the Croisette this afternoon? Was I really assaulted by a projectile sugar cube as I headed toward the Salle Debussy?

Mine wasn’t the only notion of reality that was slightly askew: Cracked ideas about parenting dominated the day’s moviegoing. Tyros Josh and Bennie Safdie, both of whom had work in last year’s Directors’ Fortnight, returned to the Fortnight this year with their first feature collaboration, the oddly buoyant Go Get Some Rosemary. Starring Ronald Bronstein (director of last year’s Frownland) as Lenny, a wiry, divorced NYC dad taking care of his two young sons, Sage and Frey (exceptionally spirited half-pints Sage and Frey Ranaldo), for two weeks in New York, Go Get Some Rosemary (2009) demonstrates that father knows worst. When Lenny, a film projectionist, has to go into work unexpectedly but can’t find a sitter, he figures giving his kids a third of a sedative so they can be unconscious for several hours is better than having them wake up and flip out when they see no one’s home. Rosemary, much like Josh Safdie’s The Pleasure of Being Robbed (2008), assembles a superb cast of weirdos orbiting around a profoundly flawed main character. Though at times borderline psychotic, Lenny is often the perfect playmate for his sons—maybe because his sense of logic is about as developed as an eight-year-old’s.

Extreme compensatory maternal love is the subject of Bong Jon-ho’s simply titled Mother (2009), playing in Un Certain Regard. Mom (Kim Hye-ja) and her mentally challenged twenty-eight-year-old son, Do-joon (Won Bin), cuddle up to each other every night; when Do-joon becomes the prime suspect in a murder, Mommy, shall we say, redefines her parental responsibility on more than one occasion. Mother begins and ends spectacularly; as for the rest, I’ll replace it with the vision of the parading elephant.

Melissa Anderson