I got lazy last week, so now I’ve got this unmanageable load of movies to get through. Shame on me, I guess. And it is a shame indeed, because a lot of the stuff was talk-worthy, even watch-worthy, but now they’ll seep through the cracks of overpopulation. So I’ll just split the last two weeks in two posts, for your convenience – and mine.
Movie of the Week (kinda)
On Body and Soul (2017)
- Hot Shots (1991): I had more or less enjoyed Jim Abrahams previous deadpan/literal comedies – with Airplane (1980) or Naked Gun (1988)/Police Squad (1982) the most memorable. Although Hot Shots got some favourable reviews and it stars a young Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer, the Top Gun parody doesn’t do much beyond the expected. The humour patterns are very Abrahams, and the talent is good enough to put it to film, but the gags just aren’t that memorable. So yeah, maybe skip this. 5/10
- Planeta Petrila (2017): You could read about my take on the opening movie of the Ceau Cinema festival last week. It’s an HBO production, so you’ve already got it running on the cable channel. In short: To the extent that ‘Planeta Petrila’ celebrates the birth of some form of (artistic) life from post-industrial wreckage, it is a great success. However, it feels detached from the wider community of the town and in not taking an inquisitive stance on the viability of life in former coal mining ‘colonies’, it shies away from the bigger social and environmental questions. 7/10
- Le tout nouveau testament (2015): I tried something with this Oscar nominated (?!) Belgian film about a jack-ass god (i.e. the Christian deity). In this iteration, god is an abusive husband and an uncaring father to his daughter (well, we know what happened to his son as well), and really, a just a bad guy for the whole of mankind. It’s a funny, somewhat subversive idea and once the daughter informs everyone on earth of when they are going to die, you know there’s going to be family troubles. But this god is just a real useless, frustrated middle aged man, with no powers whatsoever, so the movie just takes him down a notch or two. Unfortunately, it wasn’t funny and it wasn’t particularly interesting either. I’m sure you can pick out some smart anti-patriarchal commentary out of the thing, but, a week later, I’ve already forgotten about it. 5/10
- On Body and Soul (2017): I had been looking forward quite a while to the Hungarian winner from the 2017 Berlinale – like, ever since my sister told me how people got sick and the screening had to be interrupted. When I was set up in a small projection room, filled to the brim with people and little to no air-flow, I half expected the worst. Alas, it seems the Romanian gut and mind is more resilient than their German counterparts. This tale about a quality inspector and a financial director working together at a slaughterhouse is unusual and captivating to begin with. When it turns out the two socially-reluctant characters share the same dream, it helps them get close to one another and they bond. For more than an hour I was excited both by the sensitivity with which the subject matter was handled and the witty truthfulness of working in the agro-industrial sector. Then, just as the leads are about to get intimate, On Body and Soul loses track of its own course and nearly compromises all the beautiful work put into getting there. The characters go haywire, the movie becomes graphically dramatic and then just as quickly does a 180 to set things right. I felt seriously let down, while trying hard to hang onto the first two-thirds of the experience. It just about worked, but I couldn’t help feel disappointed by the end, both with the movie and with the fact that nobody fainted. 7/10
- Una (2016): What attracted me to this movie was not the child abuse theme, which usually makes me feel so at ease on a Sunday afternoon. Instead it was Ben Mendelsohn and, to a lesser degree, Rooney Mara, two actors of strong caliber, with the capacity to make such drama work. Unfortunately, although the duo do their best, the movie falls pretty flat overall and, once more, I find myself a week later with few to no memorable moments in my head. It just feels heavy handed and convoluted, I guess, in spite of the performances and the occasional nuances. The fact that the two leads are both dislikable doesn’t help much either. 6/10