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Films to note

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OK, another bunch of films to dump on you: The Man Who Copied, The Motorcycle Diaries, How To Be Emo, Timecode, and a whole bunch of others.

O Homem Que Copiava

The Man who Copied’s main story is about a guy, André who has a badly paid job operating a photocopier in Porto Alegre and who starts copying money in the end. (Having be an ‘optical reproduction professional’ myself as a teenager I can sympathise with the job and just had to see the film…)

But the film is not a simple crime story as its title suggests. It’s rather a love story and quite a sweet one at that. André doesn’t mind being not-so-well of until he meets Sílvia. And to have an excuse to see her at the clothes shop he pretends to buy something for his mum… but he needs some money to do that. From this little start along with spying on other people using a telescope and even some serious crime and luck in the end, the story develops towards a happy – yet somewhat surprising ending. Recommended!

André and Sílvia

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

Diarios de motocicleta

The Motorcycle Diaries or Die Reisen des jungen Che (the travels of young Che) as they ever so factually and unromantically translated the title into German is a film about two young guys, Ernesto (played by the depressingly good-looking Gael García Bernal from Amores Perros and Y Tu Mamá También fame) and Alberto travelling South America on a motorbike.

South America is huge – the travel more than 10000 kilometres. It’s beautiful. And it’s poor and full of exploitation of the natives. In the course of their travels they enjoy their continent and while not having a good time or cursing their motorcycle, they take note of how poor people are and how badly they are treated. Which, in turn, leaves them questioning whether everything is going the right way in South America.

The film is not only beautiful but it’s equally great that we can follow ‘Che’ before he did what made him the T-Shirt decoration of today’s ‘politically engaged’ youth. There is no hint about the things to come, just following these two friends around the continent, seeing what they see and perhaps understanding the motivations behind what they ended up doing. (Of course all of this may be skewed and biased as the film is apparently based on an autobiography, but still…)

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

How To Be Emo

Emo music – or rather the whole scene – is quite amusing. In particular as any two people asked on the topic will disagree on what is and what isn’t ‘emo’. Just read this report to get a taste of the nuances. And so it was great to find a film on the topic. An independently made black and white film in which a normal kid is ‘taught’ to be emo. In classical educational TV style.

Not only is the film quite funny, it’s also really well made for what looks like a home-grown production. And I also love all the details – like the way his room keeps having different decorations to fit his current ‘progress’. And best of all, you can just watch the film online!

Becoming Emo: Before and after

Timecode

Timecode is a film that looks severly dated today. It splits the screen in four parts and shows four views on what’s going on in real time all the way through. I think that’s exactly what was considered to be exciting in the late nineties as it seemed to become technically possible back then (and it’s used for nothing more than the snippets after the ad breaks in 24 these days).

It is quite challenging to actually watch this as focusing on one of the views means you tune out of the others at the same time. And I think the film has to be given credit there in making not too much happen simultaneously and in selecting the ‘important’ dialogue by given the sound of the different scenes different volumes, to make it feasible to be watched. (And I’m wondering whether this may be a film that could benefit from the HD future, as splitting a current TV screen in four parts leaves you with rather small scenes.)

Unfortunately after all the technical curiosities, I found the stories itself not too compelling. They all centre around a film production company in Los Angeles. We witness meetings – with a guy giving the people massages in the meantime hanging around all the time, we see some actress, we see a jealous rich lesbian driving her girl to an audition and eavesdropping on her while she is in the building cheating on her with some producer and we get to hear some flabbergasting monologue on how film should be made towards the end.

Not the worst I have seen, but didn’t convince me either. But at least there’s Salma Hayek to look at… at a quarter of the usual size that is.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

Other

In fact, when starting to write these multi film posts, I was hoping to get over a certain backlog of films I had seen in the past weeks (by now that’s much more than half a year). But as things go there were always so many new interesting films that I never even mentioned the old ones. Which in turn I wanted to do, if only for my own memory of things. So, mostly for my own benefit, I’ll mention in no particular order:

The Aviator, a story from a cool time with a good style in somewhat dull or simply too long film; Raise the Red Lantern with stunning colours in early 20th century China where a rich guy keeps four wives in his house one of which he’ll stay with each day – she has red lanterns raised at her place and can choose the dishes for dinner – of course the women start hating each other, drama ensues; Samaria by Kim Ki-Duk about two girls one of which, Jae-yeong, sells her body while her friend helps organise that ‘business’. They want to see the world with the profits but Jae-yeong dies. Her friend tries to understand everything that has happened before by tracing Jae-yeong’s way step by step. Includes all the Kim Ki-Duk goodness of little speaking and beautiful shots around the tragedy; Shaolin Soccer a silly but fun film about a football team. Much lighter than many western approaches at the same topic. Light enough for even me to enjoy it; And Kung-Fu Hustle which is pretty much in the same spirit with lots of ridiculour fighting.

Antonioni’s L’Avventura which I either didn’t get or failed to see the brilliance of that I’ve heard people talk about; Snatch a fun film about small time crime and many things going wrong – a bit over the top perhaps, but fun. Brad Pitt really has this thing about playing violent bums; Actually it’s the sequel of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels which isn’t as ridiculous and thus better; Bad Guy with more Kim Ki-Duk violence in a tense film; In Almódovar’s old-ish ¡Átame! an actress is kidnapped and tied down by a mental friend but not quite as intent to escape as you’d expect; And in Tecones lejanos, another old Almodóvar film we see a girl married to her mum’s ex-boyfriends and the drama coming from that, particularly in a theatrical family; The Conversation is Francis-Ford Coppola goodness, recommended by Dave as an audio analogue to Blow Up last year – and rightly so (although I liked Blow-Up better).

OK, I’m feeling better now… that Sticky with film names noted on it is empty now. Sorry for the distraction.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

June 7, 2006, 0:20

Tagged as átame, avventura, bad guy, brad pitt, che, conversation, country:cn, country:it, country:ko, emo, film, francis ford coppola, gael garcía bernal, how to be emo, kim ki duk, kung-fu hustle, lock stock and two smoking barrels, michelangelo antonioni, motorcycle diaries, pedro almodóvar, raise the red lantern country:br, shaolin soccer, snatch, tecones lejanos, zhang yimou.

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