If not as dense as Godard’s Masculin Féminin, Wolfgang Becker’s Good Bye, Lenin! is an equally playful look at the effects of American globalization abroad. Christiane Kerner (Katrin Saß) is a Communist party supporter who falls into a coma after a heart attack and sleeps through the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent invasion of America’s fast food joints. Looking to spare his mother further injury, Alex (Daniel Brühl) concocts an elaborate plan to convince the bedridden woman that Communism is still very much alive: He videotapes fake news programs to explain the “Trink Coca-Cola” banner outside her window and makes her believe that her favorite brands of food haven’t been replaced by cheap—but apparently similar tasting—knock-offs from Holland. Continue reading
Known to English-speaking audiences as Day for Night, La nuit américaine was director François Truffaut’s loving and humorous tribute to the communal insanity of making a movie. The film details the making of a family drama called “Meet Pamela” about the tragedy that follows when a young French man introduces his parents to his new British wife. Truffaut gently satirizes his own films with “Meet Pamela”‘s overwrought storyline, but the real focus is on the chaos behind the scenes. One of the central actresses is continually drunk due to family problems, while the other is prone to emotional instability, and the male lead (Truffaut regular Jean-Pierre Leaud) starts to act erratically when his intermittent romance with the fickle script girl begins to fail. In addition to all this personal drama, the film is besieged by technical problems, from difficult tracking shots to stubborn animal actors. The inspiration for future satires of movie-making from Living in Oblivion to Irma Vep, La nuit américaine was considered slight by some critics in comparison to earlier Truffaut masterworks, but it went on to win the 1973 Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Continue reading
Budapest in the thirties. The restaurant owner Laszlo hires the pianist András to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires András to his only composition. His song of Gloomy Sunday is, at first, loved and then feared, for its melancholic melody triggers off a chain of suicides. The fragile balance of the erotic ménage à trois is sent off kilter when the German Hans goes and falls in love with Ilona as well. Continue reading
A new housemate, Isabel, a lesbian, teaches Xavier about the moves and touches that most appeal to women and he tries them out on Anne-Sophie, the neurologist’s wife who eagerly submits to his advances. The film, however, has a larger theme: learning to discover our true self, not the one parents or teachers expect us to be. The experience allows Xavier to get in touch with his own creative energies and reminds him of his childhood longing to become a writer. While L’Auberge Espanole never explores any character in much depth and the camera tricks can become tiresome, it has intelligence, fun, and exuberance and, with Barcelona scintillating in the background, rekindles the time when life was an adventure of discovery. Continue reading
Three stories about a man and a woman, all three using the same actors. Three years: 1966, 1911, 2005. Three varieties of love: unfulfilled, mercenary, meaningless. Continue reading
A girl, a boy, a murder, some great landscapes, the sound of wind. Like a young couple on the lam film shot by Straub/Huillet. It achieves a beauty few films can.
Boy meets girl at the end of the world. Once again, Julio Bressane stages the beginning of life itself as a stylized and dysfunctional yet mysteriously minnellian dance. O Garoto, element of the collective project Telha brilhadora, that comprises also O prefeito by Bruno Safadi, O espelho by Rodrigo Lima and Origem do mundo by Moa Batsow, is a film that has at its core a mischievous insurgent sexual energy that bristles and sparks relentlessly poetic hybris. Those who are not familiar with Bressane’s work may be puzzled by the minimalistic approach and its reiterative patterns, but it is obvious that O Garoto (The Kid) is just a different kind of educaçao sentimental Continue reading
A woman slowly drinks herself to death as she is physically and emotionally used by one man after another. Continue reading