Wednesday, May 18, 2005

wednesday morning

One of the things the good people here in Cannes like to do is issue far more tickets to their screenings than there are seats. There are two results to this, (three if you count that it fights that occur when someone wants to trade and the other person doesn't) the first is the theater is always full, and the second is that lots of people can't get in and walk away really mad. That is what happened to me a couple of times yesterday. Once for The Child and once for the market screening of Dundgeons and Dragons IV or V (I'm not sure which).

This resulted in my seeing two unscheduled films, an Israeli documentery reviewed below and a reallly old film by a guy named Robert Bresson called Les Anges Les Peche. It's about a convent that recruits ex-convicts and involves a young saint and a murderer whom she befriends. It's really silly melodrama. I've always wanted to see "Killer Nuns in Prison" or something like that, but this is as close as I'll ever get. I saw a poster in the market area for a film who's name I can't recall, but the tag line is "God is REAL and He's coming to KILL you!!!"

After I got out of the nun picture, I decided to have my one meal of the day (I'm on a diet) at a local bistro, BIG mistake. A small green salad and a diet Coke® cost ten bucks. I'd have gone to a sandwich place on the beach, where the fare is slightly cheaper, but the heavens opened up and we got at least two inches of rain. The subtropics in the middle of may and it's freezing out...shee'yit!

Now for the reviews:

Avenge But One of My Two Eyes (Israel)

Written and Directed
by Avi Mograbi

This is a documentary about suicide and it's place in modern-day Israeli ideology and as a part of the Israeli/Palestinian problem. Filmmaker Avi Mograbi has long been one of those anti-Israel Israelis who despite all the evidence to the contrary, still thought that diologue with Arafat and his evil minions would lead to something. HA!

Basically, what it is, is on the one hand a phone conversation between Mograbi and a Palestinian/Christian friend of his discussing how life isn't worth living under the current situation [this was 2002, at the height of the Palestinian war of aggression known as the 'Al-Aqsa Intifada']. We don't really know where this is leading, but the conversation is interspaced with scenes from guides telling tourists the story of the siege of Massada, which is where the Jewish revolt against Roman oppression finally ended with the mass suicide/murder of the Jewish freedom fighters in 73 AD. Then he goes over to the Israeli army checkpoints in the West Bank, where Palestinians are forced to wait for hours in front of roadblocks.

More humiliating than having to wait, is of course is being forced to by inferior Jews. Even worse, when this was filmed a couple of years ago, the Palestinians under Arafat had declared full-scale war on the Jews. We don't see that part, as this is more propaganda than anything else.

Also highlighted, and this is where the title comes from his the story of Samson, hero Judge of Israel in the late second millennium BC, he of the magical dreadlocks that gave him super-strength, and how he brought the Temple of Moloch in Gaza down, killing himself and thousands of Phillistines.

Basically what Mograbi is saying is that if it was okay for Samson and the Zealots of Masada to off themselves, then it's okay for Palestinians of little brain to strap bombs on their bellies and blow themselves up in the middle of restaurants and schools. It's a tribute to the government of Israel and the National TV network that the government PAID for this piece of crap. Genuine freedom of speech is rare.

Broken Flowers

Written and Directed
by Jim Jarmusch

Bill Murray, has in recent years, perfected a certain character. Well aware, but half asleep, he wanders through the world trying to make sense of it all. He's gotten an Oscar® nomination for playing it, and it's always rather fascinating to watch.

Jim Jamrusch is an occasional genius, who's films range from the useless to the utterly brilliant. This is a match made in heaven that has born fruit before, in “Coffee and Cigarettes”.

During the opening credits we follow a pink envelope as it travels from the hand of a mysterious person through the entire US postal system, until it winds up in the front hall of one Don Johnston(Murray), whom we meet getting dumped on by his girlfriend(Julie Delpy), while nosey sitcom neighbor Winston(Jeffrey Wright) calls to invite him for fine Ethiopian coffee.

While discussing life, our hero opens the letter at last, which says that he has a nineteen year old son who's off on a voyage to find his unknown father. Being a laid-back kind'a guy, he's more than happy to wait for the fellow to drop by, but Winston is a big fan of mystery novels and TV shows and thinks himself a bit of a sleuth himself. This is an old fashioned mystery presenting itself in real life.

He convinces Don to go on a preemptive quest to find out who the mysterious mother is. To do this, Don has to visit all the girlfriends he was going out with in 1986, and ask them point blank. Winston has made all the arrangements, all he has to do is foot the bill and go.

So off he goes. These are four very different women. The first, Laura(Sharon Stone), is a widow with a teenaged daughter(Alexis Dziena) who likes to go around in the nude. Dora(Frances Conroy) is a real estate broker who's married to her business partner(Christopher MacDonald) and is ultra-straight and living in a house that looks like something out of “House and Garden.” Carmen(Jessica Lange) is an “animal communicator” who claims to be to be a latter-day Dr. Doolittle. Then there's Penny(Tilda Swinton), who lives out in the middle of nowhere and is the only one of the four who isn't happy to see Don after all these years.

Does Don find his son? That would be telling, and while this isn't one of the most compelling movies of the year, but it's one chock full of really winning performances, and is definitely worth a bargain matinee.

There are a number of market screenings of films that I've seen in some small (and large) film festivals in the last few months and this would be a good place to place a couple of reviews:

The Baxter

Written and Directed
by Michael Showalter

The title of the film is a made-up word. It's the guy who loses the girl in just about every romantic comedy made in the US over the past few dozen years. You know, Gloriana is about to marry Baxter, but the love of her life Toby has just returned from Darkest Africa to sweep her off her feet. Poor Baxter always gets dumped at the alter…and we feel good about it!

So this is the story of one such baxter, who's name is Elliot Sherman(Michael Showalter). Elliot is an accountant [aren't they all?] and in the course of his duties, he meets two women, Cecil Mills(Michelle Williams) a mousy temp, and the glamorous Caroline Swann(Elizabeth Banks), who unexpectedly falls in love with Elliot, and soon they're engaged.

But as expected in these things, Caroline's been holding a torch for one Bradley Lake(Justin Theroux), who shows up just as scheduled. Brad has to be stopped, but what is someone as klutzy as Elliot to do?

He accidentally meets up with Cecil again, and it seems that they're soulmates, but as luck would have it, she's got a boyfriend too(Paul Rudd). So, is Elliot going to be the baxter yet again?

The good thing about this is that most of the jokes work. Showalter can act all right, but this is bascally a one man show, and he manages to pull it off. Ms. Williams is adorable, and in the basically thankless role of Caroline, Liz Banks does a quite professional job. What's surprising is Justin Theroux, who's actually hilarious. This is definitely worth a matinee.


Directed by
Christian Alvart

One of the reasons that most foreign nations hate America is that for some reason we love our serial killers. There are serial killer movies galore coming out of the 'States and this leads the less intelligent to imagine that the land of the free and home of the brave is just chock full of them.

Other countries have them too, y'know and this is gem is a good reminder of this important fact.

Michel Martens(Wotan Wilke Moehring) is mostly a farmer, but in his little town somewhere in rural Germany, needs a part time cop,and he's it. There was a murder of a teenaged girl a few years back, and the locals are getting pissed off at our hero for not only not finding the fiend, but expecting that one of them would do such a thing.

But things are looking up. The Berlin police have found and arrested the suspect(André Hennicke), and it looks like they've got their man. Michel is informed and he travels to Berlin to meet the fellow. He's like a low class Hannibal Lector, and he's not talking until with anyone but him.

Back in the boonies, everyone is thrilled. Michal's wife(Ulrike Krumbiegl) and son(Hans Hoeng) are really happy for a brief amount of time, but the case is taking too much of Michal's time and the son is having problems in school, becoming slightly antisocial.

The villain makes insinuations about the boy. Could it be that the kid might have had a hand in the girl's murder? This is actually a really cool flick, which, sadly won't get wide release on our side of the Atlantic any time soon.


Pablo - Tel Aviv said...

Sorry, but many israelis think that to act Nazi with the palestinians is wrong. Even when some 150 or something of them had gone with a big explosions and dead people around (here, in front of my window).

Pablo - Tel Aviv said...

...and to say that an Avi Mugrabi films is simply propaganda is to underestimate intelligence and art (what is the prupose of this film? why somebody took the time to do it?) What the soldiers are doing in front of the camera is not false, it happened, it is there. Out of the documentary parts there is the thesis. Some say that is a justification of suicide bombers. Others, that the myth of Masada (a fundational zionist myth - is not an Israeli myth) is f***** up like the suicide bombers themselves. Mugravi is an intelligent person (even if you dont agree with his political views), so the second option (and more complicated arguments flowing from it) are more of his type.

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