Nuit de chien
This stylistic theatrical (as on the stage) film is a walk on the dark side of politics where everyone must make a choice. And everyone dies, the point is when. The theme is political manipulation in a an imagined fascist state. For me, it was not so easy to watch. But then I had the pleasure of meeting one of the executive producers who came to the ecumenical round-table yesterday on the human and spiritual values of contemporary Chinese film (how’s that for a topic?). We got to talking and found that she is a Catholic and went to a Catholic boarding school growing up. We had breakfast together at the hotel this morning; what a wonderful lady. There is a chance the film may win an award here ….
The Sky Crawlers
For all you anime lovers! Warner Bros. has distribution so I imagine this Japanese film will come to the US. This very long film is for older teens and young adults. Don’t let the animation fool you. The film is a sci-fi fusion of animation styles… and not one computer is to be seen throughout. The story follows a very youthful looking pilot, one of the ‘Kildren’ , a by-product of genetic manipulation that clones people who never grow up…. And can only die if they are killed in war. No problem… the wars are manufactured and continual and carried out by companies who exist to fight wars to give people the illusion of peace. Because you only know what peace is if there is a war going on, right? The film is actually an existential conversation between characters about whether or not living is relevant and if walking along a country road each day with the possibility to notice something new makes life worth living. Although this genre is not my favourite, I must admit that it launched many conversations among us jurors. It took way too long to get into the story (as did many of the films at Venice this year….). If you like thoughtful films, you may want to check this one out. It is based on a best-selling Japanese novel.
Rachel Getting Married
This Jonathan Demme film stars Anne Hathaway as Kym, the sister of Rachel, who gets out of rehab just in time for Rachel’s wedding. This is a film that works the 12-step program through and through, and to good effect, I thought. It’s also done with a hand-held camera (as were several films at Venice this year) and according to Demme, he wanted it to be the best home movie ever. It probably achieved that. I really like cultural inclusivity in film, but I thought this pushed a good thing into pure pastiche. Having said this, I think this is an interesting and even important film about family relations and healing. Also, Anne Hathaway proves she has acting chops … she is not just a pretty face... Screenplay by Jenny Lumet... daughter of Sidney.
Anne Hathaway as Kym and Rosemarie DeWitt as Rachel.
An Algerian surveyor must go into the outback to re-map an area in order to bring in electrical lines to remote villages. He is part of a kind of coffee house intelligentsia/anti-intelligensia group as well that is pushing for a revolution. Once he gets to the village, he meets with hostile local officials who don't seem to want government interference. At the same time, Africans from other countries are sneaking into Algeria to escape persecution in their own countries and the main character discovers a woman in his poor trailer one day….
This extremely long film took almost 90 minutes to get to the action. It is a true art house style of filmmaking that invites contemplation rather than the expectation of cause-effect narrative.
The Hurt Locker
This Kathryn Bigelow film will go down in cinema history as part of the Iraqi war film genre. It follows three soldiers through their last month as a team that diffuses roadside bombs. The premise of the film is that war is addictive. It is relentless in its pursuit of getting the audience to experience even a little of what these soldiers, all male, go through and how once one of them gets home, he cannot settle. He has to go back to find meaning on his life. This film will not be commercially viable but in a few years it will be seen as an important investigation into the psyche of soldiering for a war with no reason, and into the banality of the military’s attempt as assuaging the impending tragedy of the lives of these soldiers. Hand-held camera…. Visceral.