Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekly Round-Up (8/11/13 - 8/17/13)

Leolo (Jean Claud Lauzon) *** - An imaginative, precocious 12 year old boy grows up in a highly dysfunctional, crazy family. He theorizes he must have been conceived by a tomato contaminated by sperm ejaculated by an Italian farmer. And that's just the beginning. This began a bit rough for me. The tone is all over the place. The scatological humor isn't very funny and the film's too broad and quirky to be taken seriously. But eventually it found its footing and won me over. It's a very nice, sweet film for people who will not be offended by scenes involving a sex with liver and cat rape.

The Earrings of Madame De... (Max Ophuls) **** - A wife of a count pawns her earrings in order to pay off some debts and this little incident sets off a series of events that culminates in a moving, heartbreaking love story. This is one of those films that really makes you think and stays with you always. On one end, it's a very sharp critique of the hypocrisy of the upper-class (very comparable to The Rules of the Game), it's got surprisingly funny moments and yet the last 20 or so minutes, it sucker punches you in a beautifully moving, tragic denouement. It's a masterpiece.

Metropolitan (Whit Stillman) *** - A lower class college student gets himself in the circle of some higher-class NYC debutantes. It's an interesting, fascinating film whose sophisticated dialogue though fun to listen to (and I bet was also fun to write) just comes off, to me anyway, as often artificial, unbelievable (do rich young New Yorkers in their 20's talk that way during the late '80s/early 90s? I don't know but I find it hard to believe that they do) and borderline pretentious. Of course, that could be just part of the joke but nevertheless I was never bored!

Eve's Bayou (Kasi Lemmons) ***1/2 - This one I've been meaning to see for a while since I've heard good things about it. But I was still surprised how much I liked it. It's about a little girl growing up in an affluent black neighborhood in Louisiana. Watching this film, it really feels like it's out of a Latin American novel by Isabelle Allende or Gabriel Garcia Marquez transplanted into an African-American milieu. And it works quite magically! Great acting too. Kasi Lemmons should direct more often.
The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer) **** - During the mid-1960's in Indonesia a group of government-supported paramilitary groups went around murdering "communists" i.e. groups of people they perceive to be threats. Over 2 million people were killed. I had no idea about this grim chapter in history probably largely because it's not seen as wrong by a majority of the population in Indonesia. These mass murderers are seen as heroes rather than criminals. The documentary actually lets them tell their story and chronicles what their lives are like today. However, they tell their story in a very unique way: They actually do their own re-enactment of the events in any way, shape or form they want to. So their dramatizations could take the form of a gangster movie, a musical, a Western or just plain straightforward re-enactments. The result is often disturbing, occasionally darkly humorous, fascinating and very thought-provoking and even moving and heartbreaking in a way. This film brings to light the capacity for human beings, and indeed they seem to be pretty nice, normal people, for doing evil monstrous things and of course, without giving away anything, the transformative power of film as an art form. It reminds me why I love film so much. It's an extraordinary piece of work, not just as a documentary film but as a film period.

1 comment:

YeamieWaffles said...

Metropolitan sounds like it could be interesting if I could get past the pretentious side of it, great round-up buddy.