The movies I've been watching lately have been a little nuts, I freely admit. One of the reasons I've slowed down my rate of posting on the blog is because for the most part I am watching older movies, films I assume none of the people who read my blog really wants to know about.
The reason for this weird new set of viewing habits is the Dartmouth library. I'm leaving Hanover in less than a month, so while I have access to the extraordinary library at Dartmouth, I thought I would watch as many of the rare films that they have as I can. I have chosen alternatively classic Hollywood fare and foreign pictures from the second half of the twentieth century. Many of these have been very interesting movies, at least to me, and so I thought I'd share some of them in a miniature report.
My other Soviet movie was even better: Yuli Raizman's Private Life, which Wikipedia calls a "little-seen" film. If this is true, it is the fault of distributors and not of filmmaking. Private Life is an excellent film. An older businessman gets fired from his (apparently very important) job as a higher-up in some government ministry. What he does for work is unimportant, because the film is about what happens when he doesn't have a job to go to. He wanders around his home, speaking to fully grown children he doesn't understand at all and a wife who neither loves him any longer nor is interested in anything he might have to say. He has dedicated his life to work, but has not spent any time investing in his private life. Now without work, he is totally at sea trying to navigate his life at home. This is not a comedy, though it has a couple of charmingly funny sequences. Instead, Raizman treats his characters with the utmost respect. Private Life is a kind of serious drama of the banal, where small decisions have large consequences and one is reminded to pay attention to life as it passes by. Raizman does not include any of our standard USAmerican platitudes about "living in the moment" or "carpe-ing the diem" or "finding the beauty in plastic bags" and such. Rather, this is a character study of a man whom we might think silly or whom we might dismiss as a blowhard, and Private Life watches this man deal with the loneliness and terror of life without work. It's excellent. And the film's ending is absolutely perfect.
I have another three weeks in Hanover, so we'll see what other strange little gems I can collect...