Luc Besson :: France :: 2005 :: 1h30
Small-time crook Andre sees his whole miserable world around him fall apart. When standing on the Alexander III bridge ready to take his own life, he notices that he is not alone. Between the man-made beauty carved in stone, and that sculpted in bronze, he sees Angela (Rie Rasmussen), as desperate as his wretched self, throw herself into the quietly flowing Seine. Panic-stricken, he hurls himself after her saving her life. Back on the embankment, the beautiful and enigmatic Angela towers over him like an inverse mirror. When they walk away together, they both take their first steps to winning over the burdens of the heart. What is unfortunate, is the backdrop sequence – as breathtaking as it is, it defies all logic. They seem to pass an unreasonable amount of time on bridges, as if there are not enough enchanting spots to film around Paris. This touristic guide through the city’s highlights distracts the attention from what is actually magnificent photography. Watch, and watch well, for it is in essence a haiku fairytale -short and beautiful- to such an extent that you could, bizarrely enough, miss the whole thing.
La Petite Jérusalem
Karin Albou :: France :: 2004 :: 1h34
Set in a Jewish Parisian suburb, a very intimate portrait of an extended family and the role of thinking (and belief) on the emotional and physical self. It may not have been necessary to show how integrated they are in their micro-society, with the sole purpose of explaining the practical dictate which guides their lives, as the relationship between thinking, acting and desire has been so finely developed.
Laura, 18 years old, has consciously become a woman and tries to incorporate her thinking (Kantian) and studies (philosophy) into her life. Around her, she sees her sister who tries to live well following religious laws as closely as possible and their mother, who through her superstition has a more poetic approach to life. Laura rejects both the representational form (poetic) and the religious form (belief) granting allegiance to the best her mind can offer. Kant, himself practically the embodiment of rationality, forms a perfect role model for Laura, who finds liberty through adherence to rational laws (as opposed to religious ones). There are flagrant parallels between their mother who finds her support in the community (with folk tales), Laura’s sister Mathilde who finds support from the religious (established) community and Laura herself, who passes through rationality with the help of her studies (philosophy). All three options are non-judged viable routes.
By not skipping over difficult scenes, we see the revealing moments in their lives. Advice is given in a non-confrontational manner, each according to her beliefs, clearly showing the love the characters cherish for each other. These timeless scenes are the crossroads of the intimate, between the physical and the mental. Where the sensuous beauty of the body dances or shivers in her beliefs. A great achievement by the young director Ms Albou!
La Tigre e la Neve
Roberto Benigni :: Italy :: 2005 :: 1h55
A crisis in their relationship separates them, but the poet is convinced their love will once again flourish. Imagine a frustrated, clumsy, obsessional neurotic trying to win back the heart of the one he loves. No doubt you are missing out reading subtitles, as the movie orientates itself around a love of language as much as it does human love. The result is touching, even if -like in La Vie est Belle– there is some discomfort about the clownesque style, partly for being just that and partly for brushing over serious subjects – there is 2005 occupied Bagdad as a backdrop. Is it really possible not to take a political stance on war, invasion and power abuse when showing a state of dictatorship turned occupied territory? Not seeing something does not make it go away, but it does allow you to live with it, for better or for worse (rather harshly shown in the movie). Several classical cinema full-circle structure tricks are used, which is a little unfortunate, but the basis of our sympathy for the character is genuine. Touched, amused and confused you walk out, as you realize that our Roman court jester has done it again.
Le temps qui reste
François Ozon :: France :: 2005 :: 1h25
Behind the unambiguous title hides the story of a young photographer who finds out his life is to end shortly. It is a sunny day when he walks out of the doctor’s office and sits on a park bench staring out in front of him. He sees some friends lying in the grass chatting, someone else half asleep, a elderly couple on bench. He takes out his camera and takes a picture. His self-centered character takes its first step. But where to? We follow him along his path, wondering what he can make of the time he has left. He can manage a reconciliation in the few months to come, but only with himself. The minimalistic presentation, as if Ozon lifted out the scenes of his character’s life with tweezers, brings us intimately close. Yet imperfections are left in form as if to mirror those in content, as our (anti-)hero comes closer to himself but coldly leaves the others behind, in sync with the life he had built for himself. A very impressive piece of work.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Part IV)
Mike Newell :: UK :: 2005 :: 2h35
Our young wizard, now aged 14, enters a triwizarding contest in which his courage and ingenuity are put to the test, and finally comes face to face with the murderer of his parents (amongst others), he-who-must-not-be-named, the evil Lord Voldemort. Although the general story-line of the fourth part is a little weak, there is more than enough creativity from the author JK Rowling and the director Newell to keep you passionate about the future of the famous young Harry. We (and Harry) are spared of his awful Uncle and Aunt, and we are thrown straight into the action with a raid by the Death Eaters (followers of the evil Lord) at a major sporting event. The new level of violence, and the growing up characters, changes the general tenor of the tale, as we witness their budding romances. Perhaps unfortunately, the movie holds many (admittedly impressive) large overview shots which break some of the intimacy we feel and are invited to as we grow with the characters. None the less, an excellent (albeit a little long) verse in the saga.