One of the Netherlands’s most adventurous filmmakers, Alex van Warmerdam specializes in creepy, fractured riffs on folk tales, and acerbic, surreal analyses of contemporary European society. His latest, Borgman, opens with a tribe of strange nomads being driven from their elaborate network of underground shelters. Their ostensible leader, Borgman, approaches an upper-middle-class home and aggressively begs for money. The infuriated husband, Richard, responds by beating the stranger senseless in front of his appalled wife, Marina. Soon after, Borgman infiltrates their lives — and Marina’s dreams — while Richard begins exhibiting his own increasingly erratic and violent behaviour. Then, Borgman’s associates begin circling the house. While somewhat related to the recent home invasion sub-genre, Borgman is primarily about the tensions, both economic and racial, inherent in modern-day society — especially the psychosexual tensions that characterize the bourgeoisie. Richard can’t help but look at his wife or his children as his property. Marina initially seems quite happy with her function as a trophy mother, but the moment the facade starts to crack she’s more than willing to consider the better offer. Driving the narrative arc and intensifying the disturbing tone is van Warmerdam’s refusal to place his characters morally. The open-ended nature of his allegory makes it feel all the more contemporary and unsettling, and therefore genuinely worthy of that overused term, Kafkaesque. ~ tiff Continue reading
Explores how Zen Buddhist monks actively got involved in the Second World War and their position now regarding that participation.
“Zen and War” features Shodo Harada Roshi and other contemporary Zen Buddhist teachers speaking of their WWII predecessors’ collaboration in wartime atrocities for the first time on film. The impetus for this film came from Ina Buitendijk, a Dutch woman whose husband suffered severely under Japanese internment in Asia during the war. As a Zen Buddhist practitioner she wrote letters to Zen monastic centers, asking how Buddhist monks could have been involved in warfare. Continue reading
A woman walks a fine line between sanity and madness in a world of constant twilight in this impressionistic experimental drama from filmmakers Maartje Seyferth and Victor Nieuwenhuijs. Nellie Benner plays a young woman who works at a filling station and lives a life of emotional isolation. No one seems to pay attention to her, and she lives in a run-down flat that looks as if it’s decaying before our eyes. As the woman wrestles with the demons that are taking hold within her mind, she frequently confronts herself in the mirror, often while naked. An older man (played by Titus Muizelaar) who has seen the woman through her windows becomes fascinated with her, but his attempts to integrate himself into her world have strange and unexpected consequences, especially when a gun enters the picture. Shot almost entirely without dialogue, Crepuscule received its world premiere at the 2009 Rotterdam International Film Festival.by Mark Deming
Some family secrets cannot bear the daylight.
A middle aged farmer, living with his old and bedridden father, tries to find truth in life. Continue reading
Believe the tale and not the teller., 10 July 2009
Author: The_Black_Rider from New Jersey
If Peter Greenaway presented his conspiracy theory to Rembrandt, the painter would probably laugh in the filmmaker’s face. Luckily art is subjective, and as long as you can make a decent enough case for an interpretation, it is legitimate. But Greenaway’s new film isn’t really about the conspiracy anyway; it’s about the image.
Greenaway famously believes cinema is an impoverished art form because it relies more on the text than on the image. “Just because you have eyes doesn’t mean you can see,” he says. He has been exploring this concept since the days of The Draughtsman’s Contract in which an artist naively uncovered an incitement to murder in his sketches. Here, Greenaway goes through every detail in Rembrandt’s painting and analyzes it. Why is Banning Cocq holding out his naked left hand? Where is the group portrait meant to take place? Who is hiding at the back? Didn’t we see all this in Nightwatching? Sort of. After a long stretch of commercial and artistic failures, Greenaway was clearly trying to reach out to the art-house crowds once again by mixing his exercise in art theory with the melodrama of Rembrandt’s love life. The problem is that Nightwatching is more of the latter than the former, and if there’s one thing Greenaway doesn’t do, it’s emotion. Rembrandt’s J’Accuse is indeed a rehash of the concepts of Nightwatching but the contrived story stripped away. Continue reading
Director Paul Verhoeven returns to the camera for this unique comedy drama surrounding a birthday party that goes horribly wrong for the host. The film was written via crowd-sourcing (close to 400 writing credits in all), with Verhoeven and his writing team of Kim van Kooten and Robert Alberdingk Thijmeach cherry picking the best parts of the scripts that were submitted after each segment of the film was shot and screened. Continue reading