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June Films

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It must have been summer-ish. I didn’t get round to seeing many films. But a few there were nonetheless: Den Brysomme Mannen, Sous le Sable, Beijing Bubbles, Fitzcarraldo Woody Allen, and others.

Den Brysomme Mannen

Den Brysomme Mannen, aka The Bothersome Man, is a recent Norwegian film. It plays in a very slick and clean city where protagonist Andreas is brought by bus at the beginning. Offices are spacious, girls are pretty, houses and their ineteriors are modern. The world looks like a perfect commercial. Yet something is wrong. There are no feelings, no smells, no tastes, no emotions. And some people can’t take that.

From time to time there are suicides, the results of which are swiftly removed to keep the city nice and clean. Andreas starts feeling strange in this place and discovers than an old man is digging a hole in a cellar through which they eventually get to a kitchen in the ‘real’ world from which they manage to grab a few bites and smells cake before being caught.

After being caught, Andreas ends up in that bus again, presumably taking him back to the ‘real’ world. But that doesn’t quite work out either – which I didn’t really get. Just as I didn’t get why people in that city just submitted to the place’s livelessness without even talking about it. And isn’t it a bit too stereotypical to play Grieg all over a Norwegian film?

Sous Le Sable

François Ozon’s 2000 film Sous Le Sable (Under the Sand) starts with a married couple going on vacation to the seaside and the husband Jean not returning from a swim in the sea. His wife Marie (Charlotte Rampling who also played in Swimming Pool) enters a state of denial after that and starts hallucinating that Jean is still living with her.

She refuses to move on in life and even in conversations with friends keeps referring to Jean as if he was still alive. While she makes progress at stages and gets to know another man, her moods are so inconsistent that she easily falls back into her denial. Which is quite dramatic and painful to watch.

In total the film was a bit lacking for my taste. Many things (e.g. new flat, new lover, mother-in-law) are quickly touched but not elaborated. This may fit in with Marie’s loss but it leaves many unnecessarily open ends for the viewer.

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

Beijing Bubbles

Beijing Bubbles [IMDB] is as outlandish as things get: A German documentary film about Punk and Rock music in Beijing. Obviously filmed in China and following a few band members around. As documentaries go, it’s not that exciting in the way it’s filmed. And as punk goes the film’s quality isn’t outrageously good either.

Yet, the film manages to convey the feeling of that music scene in China. About being different from the mainstream taste - which is said to be a much stronger stream than here - about people living their musical dreams with the help of their families there and giving the country a different image than what we usually read about in the media. After seeing the Humanism in China exhibition recently, this is the second opportunity I have to get a view on China which isn’t dominated by cheap copies of ‘our’ products or sweet-and-sour sauce. And that’s great.

What I did find astonishing, is how Western these musicians and their tastes were. Only half of them sing in Chinese and their tastes would neatly fit in in our music scenes here. Even Peaches got an honorary mention and the somewhat drugged looking singer of Joyside with his pink shirt with black hearts, his Mick Jagger smile and love of Jim Morrisson almost looks like he was made for television.

Couple from Beijing Bubbles

The film’s German subtitles for the Chinese speaking were a bit annoying. It’s probably well known that Helvetica isn’t a good typeface for subtitles. And if that isn’t well known, simply trying to read them would have made the point. But at least proper Helvetica would have been better than the Arial subtitles they actually had…

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

Zodiac

I am not a big fan of long films. But I will make an exception for all 158 minutes of Zodiac. Directed by David Fincher who already rocked with the criminal masterminds in Seven (I’ll refuse the silly ‘proper’ spelling of the title, if I may), this is another detective story digging into a (apparently real) series of sick murders.

It’s great to follow around the police and some journalists in their attempts to figure out and catch the murderer. The only problem being that they don’t. Any lead they have gives no usable results. And every suspect will have to be let go. Obviously this drives the people involved in the case nuts. And it fools you, as the viewer, into thinking that person x must be the murderer over and over again. So well, in fact, that in one scene you’ll be utterly convinced that the investigating cartoonist Robert is facing the murderer and will be killed by him soon.

Tense and at times uncomfortable. But in a good way.

Cartoonist and cop from Zodiac

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

Fitzcarraldo

Impressive. Early 1980s Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski film Firtzcarraldo at first looked like madness and boredom to me. But then things came together and started making sense. And opera house in the Peruvian jungle isn’t as absurd as it seems and the dedication that protagonist Fitzcarraldo puts into it is enviable. Even if moving a ship over a mountain is what it takes to arrive at his goal. It’s nice to see the mad plan work out and follow Fitzcarraldo - always dressed in his white suit and insane grin and equipped with Kinski’s ability to actually look down on people far taller than himself. ‘Childlike wonder’, I say. And perhaps there’s some magic in opera after all.

[Which is much more than I expected after seeing a wrong-way-round quotation mark in the very first text the film put on screen…]

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

Woody Allen

Another chapter in the never-ending book of Woody Allen films is his 1990s film Mighty Aphrodite (German title is Geliebte Aphrodite which copies the Aphrodite but not the sound of the English title and doesn’t work quite as well in my opinion) in which Allen’s typical New York psychotic rich artist story is mixed with classical greek theatre - complete with a chorus commenting on what happens - while Allen’s character tries to find the mother of his adopted son, who turns out to be a hooker. In Another Woman writer Marion is a very strong and active woman; but in the course of the film through meeting her family and friends and listening to the analyst next door she realises that people rather see her as closed and selfish control-freak which doesn’t exactly correspond to the image she has of herself. Finally, Shadows and Fog, a somewhat different film. Not only in 1990s Black and White but also quite dark and foggy as the title suggests with all the nice/kitschy images that implies. In search for a serial murder many people wander through that night and we encounter a load of different scenes and relationships. Cool thing to note: Woody Allen’s fascination with magicians that we got a lot more of in Scoop recently.

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

Others

Finally got round to re-watching the classic North By Northwest; nice film, nice story. And I keep thinking that the whole airplane-landing-in-garden thing also appears in some James Bond movie. But I may just be mixing things up. Dark Habits (Entre tinieblas) seems to be the first full-length film by Pedro Almodóvar. While not as elaborately decorated as his newer films, it being set in a downtown convent with a taste for drugs. Many of the situations in there are hilarious and it’s a very entertaining film with a hint of drama.

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

July 2, 2007, 0:14

Tagged as another woman, arial, beijing bubbles, brysomme mannen, charlotte rampling, china, country:cn, country:no, david fincher, entre tinieblas, film, fitzcarraldo, françois ozon, helvetica, joyside, klaus kinski, mghty aphrodite, north by northwest, pedro almodóvar, shadows and fog, sous le sable, werner herzog, woody allen, zoidac.

Comments

Comment by d.w.: User icon

That plane’s dustin’ crops where there ain’t no crops. :)

July 3, 2007, 20:18

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