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March Films

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This month with Mexican La Zona, classic American The Odd Couple, German Toter Mann, French Conte d’hiver and Italian Gomorra.

La Zona

La Zona is a cool Mexican film about a rich suburb which managed to wall themselves off completely. To an extent that they don’t even usually let state officals into the complex. When shit starts hitting the fan - which it does after a billboard collapsed on the complex’ wall, some guys walk in to steal things and one of them is shot - the inhabitants of the ‘zone’ can’t admit any wrongdoing and simply try to get rid of the bodies putting up a blank front of denial to the outsides.

This situation is aggravated by the fact that one of the guys who walked in there was not caught and is still running around between the rich people’s homes. This adds drama as there’s now a scared kid running away from a lynch mob inside their walled off compound. This is bound to end up in the wrong way and it does.

Probably a good reminder why - unpleasant as it may seem at times - it may just be a good idea to live in a state where all people have the same rights and police can investigate everywhere.

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

The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple is an absolutely hilarious film from 1968 starring Jack Lemmon. He’s playing Felix, a guy who has been kicked out by his wife because he’s too fussy and pedantic. After moving in with his friend Oscar who’s living in a huge, messy and dirty apartment since his divorce, he starts messing up Oscar’s life and apartment. Or rather he un-messes up th appartement, thus making it impossible for Oscar to live his normal life because he starts being told off for placing a glass on the table without using a coaster, every meal ends up being a stress situation because it has to be cooked with great scrutiny and eaten at the exact time and so on.

After a while Oscar kicks Felix out as well - after he had messed up a date they had with their charming British neighbours. Felix uses the opportunity to place all the possible blame on Oscar and somehow manages to move in with the British neighbours instead of committing suicide as all his poker friends fear and expect. Win-win situation, one thinks…

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

Toter Mann

Trying to catch up with even more Christian Petzold films, we watched the 2001 Toter Mann (a.k.a. Something to Remind Me), which once more feels quite distanced and tragic. The bottom line is that Leyla - played by Petzold’s favourite actress Nina Hoss once more - gets to know a guy and then vanishes. After a while it becomes clear that he’s a lawyer and she just wanted to steal his laptop to find one of his clients. Said client just being in the process of being reintegrated after having been to jail for murder.

She’s very charming and the guy is hopeless. He likes her. He falls for the traps he sets for her and he doesn’t even disagree with her idea to punish him for his deeds, going along the path she has set even after he figured out that it’s a trap.

The most amusing scene in the film happens when the lawyer tries to locate Layla, gets into her department and find the book Zielobjekt Mann (target: man) on her desk which illustrates the exact scenes which happened earlier in the film when he thought he’s getting to know her… We googled the book but it seems to be made up for the film. Cool effort, particularly as the book was nicely illustrated in the film.

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

Conde d’Hiver

Watching Conte d’hiver (a.k.a. A Tale of Winter) completed my consumption of Eric Rohmer’s seasons quadrology (if that’s a word). Unsurprisingly, the film is a sweet bit of nothingness with endless conversations about why who’d doing what and (not) loving whom. The sheer seriousness with which these discussions take place is amusing and, yet, there’s a happy end coming out of nowhere. This stuff may simply be better and more charming to watch in French (albeit with subtitles as my French seems to have degraded too much by now…).

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


Gomorra was a big hit in 2008 but didn’t go to see it mainly because the trailer I saw consisted of two guys in pants standing at a river shooting guns which I didn’t find too appealing. But I was convinced to finally see the film anyway and that was a good thing as that trailer may have given the wrong impression.

The film is based on a popular novel about mafia-life and ‘the family’. We follow a number of characters in a run-down 1960s housing block [the architecture and setting alone is genius, IMO, taking q quarter of an hour before you even see the whole block from the outside the first time] and see how the ‘family’ is everywhere without being visible. People get paid, people get killed, kids are keen to join them, others want to leave but can’t, toxic waste is deposited, politicians are bribed, and a few don’t really see how the system works and pay the price for that. It’s subtle, and it’s everywhere which makes it scary. Quite an impressive film, despite the trailer.

Housing block

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

April 4, 2009, 23:17

Tagged as christian petzold, conte d'hiver, country:mx, eric rohmer, gomorra, jack lemmon, matteo garrone, nina hoss, odd couple, toter mann, zona.


Comment by d.w.: User icon

Trivia dept.: my best friend from childhood lives and works in Hollywood in the movie business, and he owns Walter Matthau’s old Mercedes-Benz station wagon. We rode up and down Sunset Blvd. in it when I visited him a couple of months ago. :)

April 6, 2009, 19:27

Comment by ssp: User icon

Let’s hope Matthau didn’t project this role’s messiness into the car …

April 6, 2009, 19:41

Comment by d.w.: User icon

It’s in pretty decent shape for a 20+ year-old car. Apparently Matthau and Lemmon (who were close friends in real life) used to drive it to the horse track. :)

April 6, 2009, 22:45

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