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drama

The Belly Of An Architect * Peter Greenaway * 1987

For a Greenaway film, this one is very ‘normal’. The film has a story which is shown chronologically, there are no stretched scenes with repetative music, no picture-in-picture or strange montage, no explicit nudity or absurd sexual moral (only a wife cheating). Fortunatly it does have a Greenaway atmosphere, but not too much. I think this is a Greenaway for a larger audience.
Stourley Kracklite is an American architect whose lifework is an exibition about an obscure but influential French architect. The final stage of the work is the preparation of the actual exhibition in Rome, but this soon proves to be Kracklite’s end. His wife leaves him, he gets very sick and looses control over the exhibition.
“The belly of an architect” is a nice film which is completely covered by the title. Nice, but for Greenaway standards maybe too normal and average …?

Anna and the King * Andy Tennant * 1999

I remember that when this film played in the cinemas, I was in doubt whether or not to see it. Jody Foster usually is alright, but she didn’t make me watch “Panic Room”. I like historical films, but the critics probably kept me out of the cinema-rooms. Now it was on TV, so…

Not a very original story! An Eastern king wants his son to get a Western education, so Foster leaves her Brittish colony in India with her son for Bangkok to teach the Kings son. Of course things don’t go too easily, especially when political affairs interfere with the relationship. So the result is a historical drama that is certainly not boring, but also not too exciting.

Amores Perros * Alejandro González Iñárritu * 2000

A long and rather complex Mexican drama. “Amores Perros” tells different stories, but has one central point: a terrible car-accident with which every person in the film has something to do in one way or another. Two and a half hours is not too long, but it could have been less. A nice film with different sides of Mexican life.

American History X * Tony Kaye * 1998

I had wanted to see this film for some time, but it took a while because it didn’t really have much ‘priority’. Eventually I did see it.

As most of you probably know, this film is about a family with a skinhead oldest son (Derek) with heavy influence on his younger brother (Danny). Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) is a very intelligent boy who developes very rascistic ideas under influence of his father who is a a firefighter. When his father got shot during work, Derek flips out and becomes a skinhead. Under presure of a man named Alexander Cameron (Stacy Keach) Derek starts a skinhead gang as he as charismatic intelligencer gets a group of “frustrated and impressionable kids” together. The group developes a liking for nazi symbology and the rooms of the kids and the tattoos they get are in that very vein.
Somewhere in the film, the younger brother Danny (Edward Furlong) tells his older brother something after there was a big fight on the table with the new friend of the mother. Derek shoots and kills the black man who either shot his father (or Derek accuses him of that) or who tried to shoot Derek himself, I didn’t really get that. Anyway, Derek is immediately arrested and has to spend three years in jail where he undergoes a 180 degree change.
The film is told in flashbacks from the time on that Danny wrote an essay about “Mein Kampf” on the day that Derek is released from jail. The flashbacks are in black and white, the ‘normal’ scenes in colour. Danny gets a choice from the charismatic, black principal (Sweeny (Avery Brooks)) of his school: either getting kicked off school or write an essay about how his brother ended up in jail. What Danny didn’t know was that Sweeny and Derek had met several times in jail and that Derek had turned around in ideology.
What Derek didn’t know was that he reached some kind of cult-status while being in jail for what he has done. Getting out he tries to ‘save’ his brother, himself and his family.

The film depicts things totally black and white. In the suburbs where the Vinyards live are black gangs and white gangs, the white gangs seem to be all skinheads. Also in jail the white men are full of tattoos of swasticas and without hair. On the other hand, the film does show quite well how youngsters get these ideas, they are “frustrated and impressionable” and they need only one person with a quick tongue to tell them what to think and to do.
The film is too moralising and there is a way too thick sauce of over-emotional finger-pointing over it. What is rather ‘unamerican’ is that there is no happy end and the end is even open.

All in all a not too great film, but rather amusing.

À Ma Soeur * Catherine Breillat * 2001

However the title means “for my sister”, the international title of this film is “Fat Girl”. This film played in the local filmhouse for a while, but I didn’t get to see it and now it was on TV. The film is about two sisters who are on holidays with their parents, the older is pretty, the other fat and depressed. Both want to get deflowered this holidays and of course the pretty girl has most success. On day one she meets an older boy, falls in love, has sex on the room where both girls sleep. When the parents find out it is end of holidays.

The film is quite nice, teenage conversations about sex and the conflicts with parents. The end is terrible though, a bit as if the director couldn’t come up with a descent end.

Alright, but only see it when it is on TV.

Los Amantes del Círculo Polar * Julio Medem * 1998

“Los Amantes…” was one of these ‘bigger’ filmhouse-films that I still wanted to see. It is of the same director as of Lucía Y El Sexo (2001) which is another film I still haven’t seen “Los Amantes” is about two young people with palindromic (Otto and Ana) names who meet and feel attracted to eachother at an very early age When their parents get a relationship the two get to live together secretly having a relationship as well, while their parents see them as brother and sister. When Otto’s biological mother dies he goes even more insane as he already is and leaves his father, stepmother and even Ana The two continue their lives but still hope that fate will bring them together some time. This does happen eventually, but…

The film is slowly told in two versions, a version of Otto and a version of Ana. The two versions go through eachother and after eachother. Sometimes you get two versions of the same event, sometimes not. Because both seem to have difficulty keeping reality and fantasy appart, you don’t know what is real and what is not. You even don’t know if it is a happy end or not!

All in all a nice romantic film.

Allerzielen * various directors * 2005

“Allerzielen” is a compilation of 16 short films that were made after (and because of) the murder of Theo van Gogh (23/7/1957-2/11/2004). Mostly young and new directors made a variety of short films. They are either about the killing, the reactions to it or more artistic films such as dance-films. The films go from hilaric to serious and artsy. Some are very clear, other say more about yourself. Some show something which would haven’t been shown before the killing like a Dutch mother talking to her daughter while a Maroccan (I think) woman is talking to her daughter, or a hilaric film about a Turkish man and his Maroccan neighbour accross the street. Some films are very critcial and clear, other vague and suggestive. Funny is that this film had its premiere in 12 cinema’s and on tv on the same night. A week later it was only shown in 2 cinema’s and now only in one. I suppose it will be on DVD soon. “Allerzielen” is both interesting from ‘filmographic’ point of view, but also of course in the course of events. Personally I found it a bit too long/strange/experimental to view all at once.

À la folie… pas du tout * Laetitia Colombani * 2002

This is the second film of the French director of 1976. “Selling point” is the main part played by Audrey Tautou who we all loved playing Amélie Poulin. This film is said to be a “romantic thriller”. Well, it sure isn’t a comedy like Amélie, but a thriller? Oh well, maybe a bit. Angelique is in love with a cardiologist and fantasises a relationship with him. She does her best to win his heart, but this isn’t easy. In the first half of the film you get Angeliques story, in the second half the same story is told, but this time from the eyes of the cardiologist and you get a completely different story. Very enjoyable.

Une Affaire De Goût * Bernard Rapp * 2000

I haven’t seen any of the other films of Rapp, but I had wanted to see this one for a while. A very original story. The young man Nicholas is hired the rich Frédéric Delamont as ‘pre-taster’. Delamont doesn’t have to turn over every bill of E 1000,- so he wants someone to find out if he will like a certain meal. In practise he wants Nicholas to try everything he wants to undertake first, like a skiing piste. Nicholas even becomes Delamont’s replacement for experiences, such as a jump with a parashute. Nicholas gets addicted to the rich life of Delamont and Delamont to experiences and conversations he never had. Delamont pushes the borders of their relationship, but it becomes clear that both will have a hard time when they get separated. An enjoyable drama to see when it is on TV some time, but not good enough to buy or rent.

“A matter of taste” is the American title by the way, but in French there is a nice word-game as you can see.

Adaptation * Spike Jonze * 2002

A film from almost exactly the same crew as “Being John Malkovich” (BJM), which says a lot, doesn’t it? But, if you haven’t seen BJM, I suggest you see it before you do this one. There is one big difference between the two films. Whereas you best know as little as possible about BJM before you see it, with “Adaptation” it is very helpfull to have some background information. The ingenious script for BJM film has been written by Charlie Kaufman. He wasn’t the first choice for, but for this very reason he was asked for a strange Holywood project. There happened to be a book about orchids written by Susan Orlean. However it isn’t exactly an easy popularly-written book, it was a bestseller in the USA and as it goes with bestsellers, the rights to make a film of it were bought by some bobo. Several scenerists have clutched their brains over the question how to make a film about orchids that people would go and see. Nobody succeeded, so Charlie Kaufman got the job. He pondered and thought but couldn’t come up with anything, so in the end he decided to write a script about him trying to write a script for a movey. Instead of looking in Malkovich’s head you get a peek into Kaufman’s own head. The film is partly ‘biographical’/true, partly not. Nicholas Cage for example plays both Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother Donald, but Kaufman doesn’t have a brother in reality. Susan Orlean is played by Meryl Streep who falls in love with the orchid-hunter John Laroche (Chris Cooper), but if I understand correctly, this is added to make the story a bit more interesting. Just as the thrillerish end by the way. Further you can see some of the filming of BJM in the film with Malkovich and some of the actors (including Spike Jonze himself). The title of the film refers to the evolution-theory of Charles Darwin (plants adapt to their new environment in this case) and the adaptation of the book that had to be filmed.
And the result? Well, “Adaptation” is a nice film, but definately no “Being John Malkovich”.
At the same time in the cinemas is another story of Charlie Kaufman being “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” (first film directed by George Clooney!) which I hope to see some time soon too. <3>