27 March 2007

Farewell My Concubine (Bawang Bie Ji), China, 1993

Dieser Film hat viele internationale Preise gewonnen, darunter der Palme d'Or im Cannes Festival im Jahr 1993. Hier geht es um die Geschichte einer Operngruppe in China, und die zahlreiche Probleme, mit denen sie konfrontiert ist. Es geht eigentlich um die zwei Hauptdarsteller, zwei Jungen, die zusammen das Opernstuck "Farewell My Concubine" spielen. Dieses Stuck hat ihnen berühmt gemacht. Einer der Schauspieler spielt die Rolle der Konkubine. Deswegen muss sich vor jedem Auftritt als Frau bekleiden und schmicken. Nach einige Jahre verliebt er sich in den anderen Schauspieler. Inzwischen kommt die kommunistische Regierung zur Macht und zerstört die Ruhe der kleinen Operngruppe. Einige sind im Haft genommen. Das Ende ist traurig, aber wie viele chinesische Filme, es dauert lange, wie wir bis zum Ende des Filmes kommen. Ein bisschen langweilig, aber mit starken und intensiven Szenen, die immer wieder das Interesse wecken.

26 March 2007

Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (Sjecas li se Dolly Bel?) ex-Jugoslawien, 1981

Dies ist der erste Film vom Regisseur Emir Kusturica. Es ist die Geschichte einer Familie, die in den sechszigen Jahren in Sarajevo wohnt. Es geht eigentlich um einen Jungen, der sich in ein Mächen verliebt. Die damalige kommunistische Regierung in dem Land hat die ganze Familie geschwungen, in einer kleinen Wohnung zu leben. Die Mutter träumt vergeblich die ganze Zeit um ihr eigenes Haus zu besitzen. Der Vater, ein verbissener Kommunist, ist davon überzeugt, das die Welt zur einem schönen kommunistischen Paradies verwandeln wird, und dass Jugoslawien ein perfektes Beispiel dafür ist. Der Film dauert lange, aber für einen ersten Film ist Kusturica gelungen, die Charakter zum wahren Leben zu brigen. Die Musik ist immer wichtig für Kusturica, und man hört sie ständig. Entweder singen die Schauspieler oder sie tanzen in verschiedenen Feiern. Ein guter Anfang für den Regisseur, der meiner Meinung nach einige Jahre später ein Meisterstuck gedreht hat: Underground.

15 March 2007

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania, 2006)

Romanian director Cristi Puiu has put up a film that is slow and difficult to sit through, but the realisitc effect is remarquable. We follow in real-time Mr. Lazarescu's journey to four different hospitals in the capital Bucharest. It all starts with a small pain, a neighbour calls the ambulance and before you can say "hospital", the ambulance nurse takes him to the first hospital, where bureaucracy, indifference and inefficiency are more than evident. He is taken to a second, and then a third hospital, until finally, arriving at the fourth one at 3am, he is admitted for an emergency operation, after having started his journey at 10pm! In the movie we do not see if he dies or not, the ending being quite abrupt. But we know for certain that anyone needing an emergency treatment in Bucharest will better think twice next time they decide to go to a public hospital.

Tokyo Story (Japan, 1953)

Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story follows an aging couple who decide to visit their children and grandchildren in different cities in Japan. When they get to visit their daughter in Tokyo, they soon find themselves to be more of an obstacle than a pleasant visitor. Their daughter takes them to a guided tour around the city, but afterwards, they decide it's time to leave and go back to the countryside where they live. Not until a tragic event takes place do the children realize how important their parents are and continue to be throughout their lives. The movie explores the relationship between parents and children, and it exposes family values in a simple and truth-to-reality way that only Ozu's movies can achieve. This is considered to be one of the best Japanese movies ever made. Judge for yourselves.

06 March 2007

That Obscure Object of Desire (Cet Obscur Objet du Désir), France, 1977

Spanish director Luis Bunuel specialized in surreal films. He was very much influenced by French writer André Bréton (The Surrealist Manifesto, Nadya, etc.) and his films are strong influence of Bréton's theories of artistic expression. In this movie, Mathieu is travelling from Sevilla to Paris by train. In the couch he meets a couple of people to whom he starts telling a story of his love affair with a woman named Conchita. From this moment, the movie goes back to Mathieu's first encounter with this very attractive woman. In his films Bunuel has incorporated narrative elements that are still being used in many surreal films, like the use of two actresses for the role of Conchita. In one scene we see one actress, the next scene you see the other actress, and so on. Sometimes he would use the same actors for several roles. At the end of his career, Bunuel was very interested in the subject of terrorism, and we can see that in several scenes in this movie. A car blows up all of a sudden and none of the characters seem particularily bothered by it. I believe Bunuel was influenced by what Bréton wrote in one of his books: "the purest act of surrealism in the real world is to go out on the streets and shoot people at random".

05 March 2007

The Pornographers (Japan, 1964)

In this movie from Shohei Imamura, a group of friends start shooting amateur porn movies and sell them to friends and basically whoever is interested. The official title of the film is The Pornographers: Introduction to Antropology! But this is by no means a softcore porn, on the countrary, the theme of voyeurism is handled with a lot of professionalism. The viewer ends up as an accomplice to what is going on in the screen. In one scene, a father tries to involve his daughter in the shooting of one of his videos, and in another weird sceen, a woman is strongly convinced that his recently dead husband has reencarnated in a fish she keeps in a small bowl. Some scene are shot from the perspective of the fish, from inside the bowl towards the outside rooms in the appartment. Imamura is a pioneer in controversial subjects in Japanese cinema.