Mike Judge :: USA :: 2006 :: 1h19
Simple character Joe is chosen to be frozen in, only to wake up 500 years later. What he finds is not the high-tech ‘Star Trek’ world, but rather a society which is run and populated by idiots. Joe suddenly finds himself to be the most intelligent person in the country.
The central theme is funny but unfortunately there is not much else in there. Watch this movie, and you will find yourself watching idiots for more than an hour. In other words, much like all the other comedy ‘blockbuster’ type movies which are intended to be funny but have you watching silliness. Just avoid this movie.
Oskar Roehler :: Germany :: 2006 :: 1h53
Two half brothers, Michael and Bruno, abandoned as children by their hippie mother, struggle to form loving relationships. Michael remained faithful to his childhood first love, one he could never act on out of a mixture of cowardice and fear of abandonment. His half-brother whose past is so outlandish the character has no idea how to deal with himself other than walking into a psychiatric ward. Two brothers are left to their own devices, but neither is really strong enough to bear the weight.
It is mostly Bruno’s tale, rather than the virginal innocence and weakness of Michael, that dominate this film. The level of ridicule of Bruno’s life exceeds most other characters in other films, but none the less brought to you somewhat convincingly by actor Moritz Bleibtreu, although it is hard not to laugh at the absurdity of the events we are supposed to believe. At some point we reach Volaire’s ‘Candide’-point, where you just wonder what other proof will be brought on stage to illustrate that life is a slow-moving catastrophe. My favorite, however, did not come from Bruno but from the disastrous life of the first love of his brother Michael. Her first (post-prom) relationship left her after two years to join a satanic sect and ended up mutilating and killing people (!?). The movie is a sequence of such tales leaving the psychologically unstable Bruno under -badly needed- medical care, and Michael finding love with his barren childhood sweetheart, excluding the possibility of an improved next generation.
Since the movie is based on Houellebecqs’ book, there is some obligation to take it seriously, further promoted by the ending of the film which adds some textual fast-forward into the rest of the characters lives suggesting it is a true story. The complete absurdity of the ‘how can we make it worse’ attitude which dominates, makes interpretations equally absurd, but we will hand it over none the less: A society which deviates from the loving nuclear family renders people anchor-less, free floating elements in the winds of their time, ever-processing the wounds left behind from their stagnated psychological development. Whether or not you are willing to sit through the movie for this is up to you, but be reassured that it is technically well made and acted. Quite an accomplishment considering the script.
La Tourneuse de pages
Denis Dercourt :: France :: 2006 :: 1h25
Young village butcher’s daughter Mélanie fails a piano competition because she is distracted by the rudeness of one of the musician jurors. Having given up on music, she finds herself in Paris many years later, taking on a placement at the juror’s husband’s law firm, who invites her into his home as a nanny for the holidays. The question is, of course, will she take revenge on the juror, and if so, how?
Old-school drama, presented timelessly by an excellent pair of actresses. There are many beautiful little touches to keep the tension high, ranging from the juror’s son’s fascination with ‘how many seconds can I stay underwater’ to the butcher’s daughter hacking away at the preparation of dinner. It would be a shame to divulge the countless other little details put into the film as we follow the young, pretty Mélanie in the Juror’s household, as it is in the details that lies the fascination. And it is that fascination which has to hold you captive, which it will, despite the simplicity of the script.
Claire Simon :: France :: 2006 :: 1h51
Adolescent Livia finds herself in the south of France, in the dust, after falling off her horse with an older man, a fireman, leaning over her. As he helps her, she falls in love. Summer is kicking in, it’s hot and emotions are flaring up.
Watching Livia ride around town on her horse, seeing the other teenagers passing their time idly and people going about their business is what fills most of this movie. Rest assured that the charm and seeming slow-motion of life in the village is somewhat justified towards the end, but it is a long wait. Ca Brule is like a Haiku stretched out as long as possible, and whether you consider it to have snapped or not will largely depend on your state of mind on going in. Beauty is certainly there, but there are merits to be found for one of the great attributes to the Haiku – it’s short(-er).
The Science of Sleep
Michel Gondry :: France / UK :: 2005 :: 1h45
Stephane comes to Paris to take on a job at a calendar-production company arranged by his mother, which unfortunately turns out to be somewhat more dull than expected. His fantasy life goes haywire in his dreams, he falls in love with the charming Stephanie of across the hall and the two put together make for an awkward, creative and funny Calvin and Hobbes seduction.
The strength of the film lies in the elaborate creativity displayed in the dream-life of Stephane, which is a real pleasure to watch, even if put together amateuristically. The unfortunate side lies in the final scenes where the weaknesses of Stephane get the upper hand rather than his creativity. As a viewer, you would have granted him a little more success than the unconvincing absurd professional breakthrough he got. None the less, the movie is well worth watching, including some very funny side characters, with, notably, an over-the-top Chabat as his sex-obsessed, down-to-earth extraverted colleague. Very original.