My movie weekend

Sadly I did not make it to any of the screenings of La Dolce Vita so I will again put off seeing that one. I think my next vegetables film will be Louis Malle’s Au Reviour Les Enfants.

But I did see a buttload of films this past weekend. Here’s a few words about them.

The White Ribbon

I was quite excited for Haneke’s new film and Ms. Marcia Hern was kind enough to join me on it’s first night at the Kendall Cinema here in Cambridge. Would you believe that this movie was pretty much just what I expected. Haneke’s usual themes of the darkness of the human soul and the ability for society to poison children and drive them to terrible deeds dominate the film. Haneke has continued his evolution into a talented crafter of a sort of ambiguous thriller (it’s good to see his pointless remake of Funny Games was merely a small bump in the road.)

The cinematography was beautiful (interesting that it was initailly filmed in color on digital and then was altered to black and white in post-production.) There was some really wonderful use of light and darkness in this film (specifically the scene in which the doctor’s son walks down the stairs in the darkness and wanders about the house calling out for his sister.) I was reminded of the stunning scenes near the beginning of Haneke’s Time of the Wolf that were lit solely by small amounts of burning hay (and later by a burning barn and, at the end of the film, a bonfire on the train tracks.) I think Haneke is underrated as a visual filmmaker who is not only able to create incredible tension and discomfort but glorious film images.

The Baader-Meinhof Komplex

Thanks to Netflix on-demand for hosting this film, a closely detailed (as to be almost procedural) examination of Germany’s far leftist youthful domestic terrorist group from the 1970s, the Red Army Faction. Quite an exciting film that revels in it’s scenes of shootings, robberies and free love. I’ve read many reviews stating that the film does not romanticize the group or the experiences of it’s members but, being that they all look to have been young, sexy and driven, it almost makes me wish I could go out and join them! This was a quite enjoyable film overall but what I really felt was lacking was more of an examination of the specifically German aspects of their ideology – any characteristic that made the RAF different from the Weathermen or the Symbionese Liberation Army in the US just eluded me. This was a country not only divided by (and a flash point of) the Cold War but also one just 25 years removed from being the perpetrator of some of the greatest horrors in human history. Overall quite worth seeing and pretty compelling throughout it’s over 2 hour running time.

The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down

Thanks again to Netflix for this little gem – a small but well done send-up of teenage health-class instructional videos focusing on how to be and be successful as an LA hipster. With in-depth instructions (along with helpful dramatizations) for things like how to avoid having everybody at the party snort all of the coke you brought this film really hit the spot and had a surprisingly high-budget look for a film that initially struck me as a straight to video piece of junk. Even the acting was pretty unoffensive and the in-jokes of the scene are sure to be appreciated by pretty much anyone who lives in a US city and is under 40 years of age. Definitely suggested a popcorn movie for Netflix subscribers.

I also re-watched The Hurt Locker, enjoying it almost as much as my first viewing. Was I was most struck by this second time around was the small detail added to the sniper scene in the desert. One soldier retrives, opens and prepares a capri-sun style juice pouch for another so he can keep his eye trained through his gun’s scope and on the target. The intimacy of this scene is one I’ve never before experienced and I think gave me a new view of the unique closeness felt between soldiers on the battlefield, but without any of the rising strings or scenery chewing found in many other films that push that point (see Platoon.)

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