Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

14 March 2008

Some More Spring Break Movies

I liked Marc Forster's The Kite Runner better than his last film Finding Neverland, but like that film, The Kite Runner is also rather a sentimental mess. Mind you, I cried about six times. It's a sad story, but it isn't moving, if you know what I mean. It's a kind of surface sadness based on situations. I haven't read the book, but I bet it's really good. Not to stray too far from my thesis topic, too, The Kite Runner contains a scene of male rape and the film's villain, in addition to the Taliban, is a kind of homosexual pervert who looks like an Afghan John Lennon. I should mention that I loved two things about the film: the credit sequence, which is beautiful, and the score (which was Oscar-nominated) by Alberto Iglesias, which is complicated and intelligent as well as very pretty.

Pascale Ferran's French film Lady Chatterley of D.H. Lawrence's novel John Thomas and Lady Jane is a long one (2 hours 40 minutes) and a rather boring one. The most interesting thing about the film is the way that it subvert's the male gaze. This is a film made by a woman about a woman and I'm not sure I can explain exactly why but it feels like it. Everything is from Lady Chatterley's point of view. This is not a film where the central female is still an object. Lady Chatterley is a sexual subject. Still, the filmmaker makes a lot of bad decisions: title cards to show passage of time and to tell us things she can't figure out how to show us. She also yadda-yaddas what could have been a beautiful sequence in the film, Lady Chatterley's trip to Paris and Italy. The director uses a kind of hand-held home video camera to relate this period in the book and it makes her journey abroad seem unimportant in her transformation. It's a very bad decision. The performances are good in Lady Chatterley, but this is not a very exciting movie.

I really, really liked Paris, Je T'aime, though. This film consists of 21 short films by world-renown directors (the Coen Brothers, Olivier Assayas, Gérard Depardieu, Gus Van Sant, Alexander Payne, Tom Tykwer, Richard LaGravanese, Gurinder Chadha, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Christopher Doyle, you get the drift) all about Paris, and the film stars about a million people you know and love: Gena Rowlands, Juliette Binoche, Willem Defoe, Nick Nolte, Gaspard Ulliel, Miranda Richardson, Steve Buscemi, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Natalie Portman, Javier Cámara, Hippolyte Girardot, Bob Hoskins, Fanny Ardant, Ludivine Sagnier, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Elijah Wood, Emily Mortimer, Rufus Sewell, Alexander Payne (as Oscar Wilde), Ben Gazzara. I pretty much loved almost every sequence, and none of them lasts very long. The best short film among the troupe is Oliver Schmitz's sequence Place des Fêtes about a would-be romance and tragedy. It's a perfectly contained little story and it's excellent. Anyway, this one is definitely a renter: romantic, lovely, filled with good miniature movies.