Vic+Flo ont vu un ours
Just out of female prison for sentences we never learn the
details of, Vic and Flo move into Vic's quadraplegic uncle's remote Quebec home, more for
the bed, board and isolation than out of any sense of filial piety. Soon enough
their past comes back to haunt them, in the cute but sadistic form of Jackie, a
sociopath from back in prison, who Flo made the mistake of crossing some time
long ago. The movie's got a lot of violence, and a pretty bleak outlook that,
at the end of it all, feels a bit unearned. But screenwriter/ director Denis
Côté's abrupt and adept genre switches make for an unusual and entertaining
ride. The movie starts on a wry note-- with Jackie telling a kid to improve his
trumpet-playing if he wants to hack it in the busking world-- and ends
somewhere far, far creepier. Definitely worth a viewing.
Je ne suis pas mort
A freaky Friday for the art house set, Je ne suis pas mort follows a prestigious Parisian professor who
dies suddenly and enters the body of one of his poor but precocious Algerian
students. The body-switching's a bit of a literalized letdown, given the
subtle, creepy ways Mehdi Ben Attia draws parallels between the professor and
his student in the movie's early scenes (a slowly oozing bloody nose on both
men, for example). The film's got comely actors and pleasant Parisian settings,
but it feels by its end like Attia could have done something more subtle and
Night Train to Lisbon
Based on the 2004 novel about an aging teacher who finds a
train ticket to Lisbon in a book and follows the
bread crumbs to Portugal
to find the author, Lissabon has good
and bad sides. Here, for your convenience, a list:
looks lovely under director Bille August's gauzy filter.
So does Jeremy Irons.
Some young pretties, such as Mélanie Laurent and
Jack Huston, show up.
The multilnational cast speak English with odd,
fake Portugese accents.
Backward time-jumping plot means jazzy costumes
from the 1970s.
Inadvertently hilarious scene where protagonist
(Irons) locks love interest in his car for hours (watch for it).
Schizophrenic desire to make you cry and then
laugh like you're watching Love, Actually.
It is not Brideshead:
GOOD BUZZ AND BAD BUZZ
Word on the street is that this year's ultra-triumph is Pozitia Copilului, a Romanian movie
about a mother trying to buy her son out of jailtime. This reviewer didn't make
it to the press premiere, but heard that the host introduced Copilului as the odds-on favorite for
the Golden Bear (a claim which, we should note, was surely made without any
consultation with the jury). The film received a great audience reaction after
the screening, too.
The great disappointment for the Berlinale's host country, meanwhile,
is Gold, one of two German entries in
the competition that left audiences hugely disappointed. One moviegoer
recommended the film-- which chronicles German explorers' search for gold in
as a good choice for a German-learner, "because there isn't much you have to
Perplexing film motifs
A perplexing film motif that I've seen in too many places to
count: The professional theater production with high school level sets. In this
year's Je Ne suis pas mort, the lead
character's wife is an actress. When we finally see her perform, it looks like
she's doing Waiting for Godot on a
set designed by a 15-year-old in his basement.
An otherwise perfectly artful movie, Baek-Ya -- about two young men who meet on the internet for sex, but
end up going on a sordid adventure instead-- featured some of the worst
subtitles I've seen on screen.
Some were just clunky. When one character asks another what
airline he works for, the other responds, "the German one." You know, the
German one. We didn't want to deal with a lawsuit, so the German one. Other
dialogue was far stranger. As the two men sat on a stoop in a moment of
apparently peaceful repose, one ripped through the silence with an inexplicable
The whole thing felt a little dada, like someone had made one
movie, and someone else had dubbed over it with jungle noises.
What do you do in a case like this? Chalk it up to bad
subtitling, or blame the script?