Monday, October 29, 2007

October Film Wrap-up

October was supposed to be a relaxed month in terms of film viewing after all the film festival movies that I saw between Sept 20-Oct 4. But as it turned out, the third week of October ended up being pretty crazy in terms of film viewings -- 15 movies in 5 days with 7 movies watched in one day. I certainly had no intentions of putting myself through this ordeal but things ended up that way. While I talked about some of those 15 movies in previous posts, the following six were left out.

  • The Son (2002, Belgium/France, Directors Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne): Rating 9.5/10
  • Fists in the Pocket (1965, Italy, Director Marco Bellocchio): Rating 8.5/10
  • Japón (2002, Mexico/Germany/Netherlands/Spain, Director Carlos Reygadas): Rating 8/10
  • Chocolat (1988, France/West Germany/Cameroon, Director Claire Denis): Rating 8/10
  • Transylvania (2006, France, Director Tony Gatlif): Rating 7.5/10
  • Electra, My Love (1970, Hungary, Director Miklós Jancsó)

    Revenge and pain: There is something so simple but brilliant about the Dardenne brothers films. The verite style allows one to focus on only the relevant details and shut everything else out. The Son is another highly infectious movie to watch, although the topic of revenge is handled quite differently from other films.

    Family problems: Fists in the Pocket is Marco Bellocchio's dark and un-relentless film which looks at the complicated relationships within a religious Italian family. It is not a surprize that this film caused such a sensation in Italy back in 1965 because the movie shows absolute cruelty and no remorse in how a man plots to kill his family. But the movie is not just about murder but includes topics of incest and religious defiance. And to think this was Bellocchio's debut feature!

    A Journey:

    Carlos Reygadas's Japón is a simple tale of a man's journey across the Mexican landscape. The man is tired of the city life and just wants to escape the noise and chaos. But he finds that he still can't shut off his desires despite being away from civilization. The best thing about this movie is the imaginative camera angles, especially during the final sequence when the camera slowly turns around 360 degrees and allows us to fully soak in every surrounding detail.

    I have a huge admiration for Tony Gatlif and his depiction of journey tales spiced with gypsy music. Both Exils (2004) and Gadjo dilo (1997) were such movies and as it turns out even Transylvania contains such elements. In fact, both Transylvania and Gadjo dilo have a lot in common. In Gadjo dilo, Stéphane (Romain Duris) heads to Romania to track a gypsy singer he once heard on a cassette. In Transylvania, a pregnant woman (Zingarina played by Asia Argento) heads to Romania as well to find a gypsy singer who is the father of her child. In both films, the main characters find themselves enchanted with the Romanian way of life and find happiness only when they give themselves up fully to a different culture.

    Exile in Africa: I do believe that some movies lose their luster when viewed in a different decade than when they were made. Claire Denis's Chocolat is a decent movie but watching it in 2007 hardly has any impact as opposed to maybe watching it back in 1988. The movie is set in Cameroon on the eve of World War II and shows the daily relations and tensions between the French and the local Africans. The movie handles some issues in a very careful and subtle manner, especially regarding the inter-racial sexual tension and the brewing revolution. There are plenty of beautiful camera movements but over the years plenty of movies have depicted Africa in a better manner.

    A staged greek play: I was really eager to watch Miklós Jancsó's Electra, My Love. But unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this Greek tragedy too much. Even though the sets are impressive and certain aspects of how the camera freely flows from one set of characters to another are interesting, I was not a fan of this effort.
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