Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day Four - Sunday, August 24

Rolla Saor (Free Roll)
Cathal Watters - Ireland - 25 min.
Irish Gaelic, eng. sub.
FFM link
Somewhere in Ireland, possibly in the 1970’s. A middle-aged couple have photography to thank for rekindling the passion between them, while visiting the seaside with their son and his pregnant wife. Their growing excitement with taking “naughty” pictures in public seems to be their eventual downfall, or is it? The man must pick up the developed prints at the local chemist/apothecary (pharmacy or drugstore to us), where it seems both the pharmacist and his lady assistant look askance at his films. He presumes that they peek at his pictures, as eventually he’s called to come to the chemist’s – to be arrested for lewd photography, he’s sure. A very cutely rendered period piece almost entirely in Irish Gaelic (with the exception of some English loan words that have no equivalent, or for emphasis), with hardly anything that would shame an Irish priest.

El Kaserón (The Big House)
Pau Martínez - Spain - 93 min.
Spanish, eng. sub.
FFM link
One of the more saccharine Spanish soap opera-type movies I’ve seen of late. Mostly comedic, with suitably touching dramatic moments, and despite adversity, failure, and a triumph of sorts, ultimately there’s happiness for the hero and heroine. Unfortunately, the characters are too much stock in trade to give the film some sort of spark beyond a polished, pleasant, but forgettable story. Alfredo, a newly graduated lawyer from a hard-working family, goes to work for the local town council. He’s given a seemingly hopeless task as a first assignment – get some squatters to leave an old house, so a town social center can be built. The preppy straight-laced boy meets the alternative bunch and falls in love with the cute “house mother”, samples numerous recreational drugs for the first time, and manages to ultimately convince the anarchist group that they can run the center. Of course, Alfredo is a pawn who was never expected to succeed in the assignment, so the crooked town council could win their case and evict the squatters. And of course he does the right and unethical thing, helps the squatters, who eventually lose anyway, and he loses his job, and license. But will he keep the girl? Will the squatters find new digs? Will I remember or care tomorrow? I might be a bit too harsh, but this film is merely a Euro version of the insipid Hollywood formula.

Die Welle (The Wave)
Dennis Gansel - Germany - 93 min.
German, eng. sub.
IMDB link
After having seen The Experiment, a German film dramatizing the famous Stanford Experiment , I was leery about seeing yet another German film dramatizing an American educational experiment on fascism. It is interesting that Americans keep trying to work out the psychological rationale behind fascism and the Germans keep dramatizing the results…is it the only way Deutsche Zeitgeist can deal with the subject? In this film, the high school experiment is set in contemporary Germany, with all the latest cultural references and gadgets. In all, more chilling in how malleable young minds can be to something that gives them purpose, especially if it frees them from having to think about the consequences of their actions.

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