A very good film with everything -drama, romance, and comedy- about a nonpracticing Muslim and a nonpracticing Jew in love. Trouble starts when they have to introduce their significant other to the their more traditional parents. It not entirely upbeat, though it's upbeat enough for an American audience. If one removes the final scene, one would have a more traditional foreign film ending (and perhaps a better movie?).
Sunday, July 29, 2007
A short flick in which drastically mismatched people are put in pairs on a couch and asked to kiss. (Or so it seems -- the setup is not clear.) Funny due to everyone's awkwardness. That's it -- there's no deeper themes about love or intimacy or religion because there's no time to deal with them.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
A good comedy ridiculing Hitler. Some jokes are physical (e.g., barking like a dog); others are psychological (e.g., bed wetting); still others are situational (e.g., piles of bureaucratic forms, a great opening scene with many heil hitlers). It's laugh-at-loud funny at times, making it a good movie to see with a large crowd (as I did).
The plot, a Jewish acting professor is assigned to help a depressed Hitler get back his charisma, is merely an excuse for the jokes. The film makers attempt, in a minor way, to use the setting for a morality tale but this isn't explored in any real depth. Also, the ending doesn't match the plot or the feel of the rest of the movie.
With the credits played clips of people on the street being asked who Hitler was. Many young people didn't know! Many older people didn't want to talk about him. Some responses were funny. It's interesting how people's reactions depended on the decade in which they were born.
The movie felt like it was a little longer than it could have been. There were a few extraneous sub-plots.
This is apparently the first German movie criticizing Hitler with humor. As such, it's a watershed. I'm told even a decade ago the culture wouldn't have been ready for it.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
A fine film, though lacking all subtlety, about atheist evangelism, fundamentalist Christian zealotry, redemption, and the hard, abusive life at juvenile lockup. Part of the reason for the latter was to show how horrible these places are and thereby spur reform. Both the evangelic atheists and the juvenile lockup themes were stolen from stories making news at the time. One even sees a few echoes from the Scopes trial, which happened a year or two before the movie was made. The theme about tolerance is timeless.
The music really makes the show. The performance I saw mostly used an organ, but nicely threw in some unusual instruments like bells and whistles as needed.
The final scenes involving fire are amazing, especially when one realizes that they didn't have special effects when this movie was made. They wouldn't be allowed to film much of it nowadays due to safety concerns. Those safety concerns are appropriate -- apparently some serious injuries happened while shooting.
The title cards, often with backgrounds of flowers, are pretty. They're sometimes (unintentionally?) funny with their comments about fanaticism and atheism.
The third character, Bozo, used for comic relief, seems out of place and unnecessary.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
A decent movie about a straight shooter running in California for the Senate. Or at least he starts out being direct, then becomes more of a politician as the race becomes closer. Deals with conflicting interests pulling on a candidate, how disorienting the campaign trail can be, the frustrations of running of office (e.g., giving speeches in sparsely attended halls, microphones providing feedback, answering the same questions repeatedly), and the length of the campaign trail and how exhausting running for office is. Although made in the 1970s, the movie still applies today. In fact, it feels real, like it could've been a documentary.
My main complaint is that the movie could've used some cutting. There's a speech that felt as if it was the night before the election -it wasn't-, and then there was thirty more minutes of film before the election itself. Also, most people smiled funny. I'm not sure if it was intentional. Perhaps the director is making a statement about how one isn't ever sure if smiles are real, faked but supposed to be real, faked but the audience is supposed to know they're faked, or what.
*Spoiler:* The best scene is the last. After Robert Redford gets elected, he asks, "What now?" It's an issue that neither he nor anyone else had considered... It reflects the gap between running a campaign and governing.