Sunday, February 15, 2009
"The Grocer's Son": ****
This was absolutely beautifully filmed and acted, and set to music that fit it perfectly. Set in the French countryside, "The Grocer's Son" is a story about a prodigal son and a way of life that is changing and disappearing--as romantic and idyllic as that sounds, the film manages to skirt the edge of nostalgia, avoiding melodrama and the sickeningly sweet. All of the characters, including the people Antoine meets on his forays in the grocery truck, are fresh and darkly comical. The contrast between the film's humor and its deep sadness was really what made this movie for me.
This title is extremely ironic. Ostensibly an interesting concept--an attempt to show how good German people were swept along with the Nazi party during World War II--"Good" pretty much fell on its face with every scene (my fault for thinking that Viggo Mortensen was worth watching when not on horseback). Either the film was just fuzzy at the beginning, or someone thought it would be a good idea to use filmography to echo the evolution of John Halder's view of the Nazi party, from blurry to clear. Halder's character also has a strange gimmick; every so often, he hears people singing. This does not add anything to his character, or to the movie. It only makes him seem insane. The film is incredibly melodramatic, to the point of being painful to watch. There are so many films out about the Holocaust this year--I'd recommend staying away from this one and seeing those that have actually won awards.
"Gitmek: My Marlon and Brando": ***
I like movies with an opinion, and this movie definitely had one. A true story about Turkish actress Ayca Damgaci's journey to find her love, Kurdish actor Hama Ali, in Iraq just as the war begins to escalate, this film really drew its strength from Ayca's rage and desperation. She is most definitely not a typical leading lady, which the film is well aware of, but her love and determination are wholly redeeming. Similarly, Hama Ali's video love letters at first seem cheesey, but in reality are genuine and (by the end of the film) excruciatingly painful. We see so much of the landscape of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq that many Americans will never see; the land is so breathtaking, and the destruction so rampant. There is a lot of anger in "Gitmek," and justifiably so, but the film's anger and rawness are what make it worth seeing.
"Dogging: A Love Story": ****
This film goes in a completely different direction--it's more of a documentary-like romantic comedy with a controversial twist. I'm not sure what made the writer interested in dogging, but it made for a really great movie. The actors were brilliant, and the script was hilarious. The characterization of the main characters, as well as the people in various vans and cars, was really, really excellent. People that seem either obscene or uptight are reversed; the young, aspiring pimp was one of my favorites. If I say too much, it would ruin the movie, so I suggest that you just go see it.
I also saw the first two movies by myself, which means that this weekend, I finally went somewhere on my own! It was a momentous occasion, fraught with dangerous beeping crosswalks and strange glances from strange people, a ghostly bus stop and theaters of dizzying height! See, melodrama is completely fine if you're not Viggo Mortensen (sorry Mom, I know how much you love him).