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

05 March 2011

One Good, One Kind of a Mess, One Dreadful

Let us start with the worst one. Christophe Barratier's Faubourg 36, which was inexplicably retitled Paris 36 for distribution in the U.S., is awful. In fact, the stupidity of this movie knows no bounds. I will not talk about all the clichés that are rampant in the film. There just does not seem to be any point. The movie is a complete waste of time. I do want to mention, however, the sexism of this film. In a relatively benign father-son story with (extremely stupid) subplots about Nazism, young love, fame, and communism, the male gaze is everywhere. I normally don't even notice the male gaze (ideology, when it is working, is always invisible) but perhaps it takes the sheer boredom of a film like this to make the male gaze in even a silly film obvious. To drive the sexism of the film home, let us compare the French poster (on the left) and the U.S. poster (on the right). The poster for distribution in the states changes the whole point of view of the film. No longer a father-son story, we ought all to go see Paris 36 so we can look at this pretty young woman and her bare shoulders.





Ugh. Stupid.








I also recently saw Sherlock Holmes, and I don't have much to say about that movie either except that it was pleasant. I was sort of bored, I have to admit. I really enjoyed the homoeroticism between Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. That was easily my favorite part of the film, but the rest of it... I was not sure why the action sequences all took place in slow motion. I find slow motion boring. I want my fights to be exciting and fast. I also was baffled by how bad the visual effects were. The film has gorgeous costumes. They are inventive and beautiful and feel like they reinterpret the Victorian era in a new, fabulous way, and the art direction was nominated for an Academy Award. And yet, amid all of this opulence, the visual effects all looked really fake. I was kind of disappointed. Still, the movie is diverting, the score is lively and very cool, and, as I said, the character work is quite fun—particularly from Jude Law (I had forgotten how much I liked him).

I also saw Ajami, a film by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani. This is a really, really smart film about racism, violence, and labor in Jaffa. I really liked it, and I recommend it highly. The movie is told in a kind of Alejándro Gonzalez Iñárritu kind of style, with episodes that converge on one another and where we see sequences from one point of view that are then re-interpreted when we see then again from another. Anyway, this is a renter for sure!