Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Beget a Temperance that may Give it Smoothness

Since retiring last spring, I've spent part of my unaccustomed leisure renting films. A few have been especially moving. They've probably never played in any American multiplexes, or been promoted in the papers, so I thought I'd share their titles and why I liked them.

Paris 36 (Belgium, 2008). Backstage fables are a staple--the show must go on!--and they still work. 36 refers to the year 1936; fascism is a a part of the landscape. The film is blessed with the very French sounding music of Reinhardt Wagner (What's in a name?), and with its leading lady, Nora Arnezeder, still a teenager and making her acting debut. We'll be seeing more of her, I'm sure.

Winter Solstice (US, 2004). An elegiac family and love story with Anthony LaPaglia and Allison Janey. He’s a widower with two boys, a landscape contractor, and she’s an out-of-work paralegal house-sitting down the street. I loved it and them.

The Italian (Russia, 2005). The title takes some explaining: a six year old orphan is due to be sent to adoptive parents in Italy. Such children have been a lucrative export for the Russian Republic. Instead he runs away to search for his birth mother. We know where the film is going, but how we get there is better than a surprise, it’s a life affirming parable.

Departures (Japan, 2008). Academy Award winner for foreign films last year. This movie is truly revelatory. Within a tale of a personal journey, it reorients our thoughts about death, and shows us how civility and compassion abide within Japanese rituals. If you see it, (and you must), let me know what you think.

Volver (Spain, 2006). To conclude on a high note, Penelope Cruz in a Pedro Almodovar film. Relating the plot would be misleading, for it is good natured and light hearted throughout, despite the gruesome events upon which the story is built. The word irresistible comes to mind, which happens to be exactly the same in English and in Spanish.

Looking back on this list, I find that all of these films deal gently with their characters, treat both their joys and their sorrows with dignity, and leave us with hope.

Production still of Masahiro Motoki from Departures,directed by Yojiro Takita, written by Kundo Koyama, based on the novel Coffinman by Shinmon Aoki.


DUTA said...

I haven't seen any of the movies mentioned in this post.

Japanese and Spanish productions are not 'my cup of tea';"Paris 36" seems to be a confection of 'much do abou nothing'. So, there's no chance of me watching "Departures", "Volver", "Paris 36".

I might like "Winter Solstice" and "The Italian" as these two movies deal with ordinary people in real life struggling with dramatic non-violent situations, a complex issue such as Adoption, and ..a Love story. I could relate to all that.

The above poster with the cellist reminds me of the following:
Q. What do a cello and a lawsuit have in common?
A. Everyone is happy when the case is closed.

dragonfly said...

Thank you for the list- I have extra time at the moment, perhaps I'll follow your lead. I'm particularly interested in Departures.

Paula Slade said...

Excellent list - always looking for something new! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o: