Bohdan Slama :: Czech Republic :: 2005 :: 1h40
Generous but impractical young man, in love with his childhood friend, is brought to building a short life together with her through circumstance before she leaves to follow her fiancé abroad. These circumstances are taking care of two little boys of their mutual friend who could no longer cope psychologically. Their lives unfold in a run-down poverty stricken suburb with a view of a smoke-puffing plant. An environment which does not make matters any easier. But the movie is not about industrial society which can hand out technological gadgets nobody really needs but not enough jobs and all the misery which comes forth from that. The enigmatic title hints that their bitter surroundings and strong social bonds may both play a part in their constructing of their lives, as happy people. Their predicaments somewhat push them further in their lives, as they try to attain happiness, but it is still hard to see them actually getting there. Unfortunately the overall work is too depressing for my taste, making it a tough cookie to swallow.
Somewhere In Between
Pierre Coulibeuf :: France :: 2005 :: 1h10
A woman arrives in a foreign inhospitable city and wonders if she’ll be able to settle in, changing her mind with the tick of the pendulum. The main theme of this contemporary dance movie is flanked by side themes of everyday movements of, amongst others, estrangement in a subterranean parking lot, two women living together and the life of a couple. Built around the choreography of Meg Stuart who also dances the lead, we see her and the others doubt and struggle transforming ordinary movements into abstraction, at times to such a degree that strangely enough they seem to loose their individuality through over emphasis and at times even their whole humanity as their bodies contort out of all logic. Quite a peculiar experience, approached in a considerably less cinematographic fashion than his last film -Les Guerriers de la beauté- whose emphasis lay a lot more on the (moving) image than here where the dance remains firmly in the front row. Despite the originality and creativity Stuart put into the work, I can not help but feel that more could have been done by Coulibeuf. The recurring problem of dance movies, lacking the live presence which theaters offer, is making full use of the possibilities of film. By ignoring it -Coulibeuf uses a lot of static shots and does not play with lighting or such, which is excessively Dogma honest for a photographer- we have a constant Damocles guillotine of boredom looming. It does not quite fall, but its presence obstructs the effect of what is actually a creative and original choreography.
Francis Veber :: France :: 2006 ::1h25
Young, simple man in the middle of a relationship crisis is convinced to pretend he is having an affair with a top model to cover-up her affair with a married industrialist. This creative plot line is followed through with a conventional simplicity that ruins the originality of the whole idea. The characters are as predictable as the situations, leaving you with a mere occasional humorous quote. The complete over-exaggeration of the wealth and supposed status of the industrialist and the top model (!?) are supposed to contrast with the bland plainness of the young man with all his integrity. It is hard to imagine how such a talented writer/ director as Mr Veber got himself mixed up into this piece of work, after having a masterpiece like ‘Le Diner de Cons’ and the very funny ‘Le Placard’ to his credit. I hope he is not discouraged and his accumulated goodwill will help stimulate him into his next piece. If you can not resist the temptation to see what he is up to, make sure you are in an exceptionally giddy mood (but no guarantees that will suffice).