Review: Lost River

Every once in a while you see something that won’t let you go. That stays with you for days in a row. That makes you want to be quiet about. An experience that changes your perspective on (the) world. Something which is perhaps only possible through and because of art. Here an attempt to review, to speak up about one such experience. However impossible.
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Reflection on Birdman and the reality and/of art

Naomi Watts in Birdman
Winner of four Oscars, and some of my favourite actors in it (Edward Norton, Naomi Watts). Enough to go and watch this film, right? Or perhaps it is the subtitle of the film that made me go and see it… In any case a movie that is worth watching: “Birdman: or the unexpected virtue of ignorance“. A reflection without any spoilers.

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Best Films 2013

It’s that time of the year to make lists, review what you’ve done, what you will do, etc etc. Here my 2013* top-10 films… [no spoilers]…

Martina Gedeck in “Die Wand”

1 Die Wand (
Austrian/German, 2012. It’s hard to say why this film came to be number 1 for me this year. This had to do with the way the audience responded. After it had finished, we all sat in silence for quite some minutes before anyone dared to get up and leave the cinema. It’s a film that stays with you, for many weeks.
2 Io sono Li (
Italy, 2011. Touching little gem. It’s one of those films that make you very happy about life, while being realistic and not a happy-happy film. In fact, I was so happy that after exiting the cinema and walking around town in a daze, my wallet was stolen and I didn’t notice until the next day…
3 Inside Llewyn Davis (
USA, 2013. Perhaps because I saw this film at exactly the right moment in life, this film made me cry for a long time. What does it mean to relate to this so much? Is it the music that finally got to me? No, there is much more going on, choices made. Excellent cinematography.
4 Matterhorn (
Netherlands, 2013. How to show the crazy habits of an extremely conservative Dutch town in which human relations are still the same as hundred years ago, without passing a verdict? By showing it, and introducing a stranger into town who is truly innocent, which makes the townspeople’s response extremely rediculous. And most funny.
5 Kid (
Belgium, 2012. Probably not too many people have seen this film, yet it deserves a mention. A chilling story of how children are resilient and find ways to be children, despite the inability of the grownups surrounding them to take care of them.
6 La Grande Belezza (
Italy, 2013. A reflection on the absurd by the king of the absurd normalcy we call the good life. Set in the extravagance of Rome’s nightclubs, a so-called-writer mourns his and his companions inability to exist.
7 Lore (
Australia, 2012. Set in Germany 1945, we follow a girl who was brought up to think like a victor in a world that turns against her.
8 Ginger & Rosa (
UK, 2012. By my favorite director, set in 1960s London, a wonderful story that needs to be told over and over – to defy the present authority, you need to find out who to trust, who you are, who you love and what it is worth to fight for. (See also previous post.)
9 Hannah Arendt (
Japan(??), 2012. Following Hannah Arendt and her work for The New Yorker into her work which we now know as the book ‘The banality of Evil’. I had expected more of this film, maybe because that book is so extremely good. But it does give a context, and with very nice images brings this topic to a bigger audience. Too bad the relation to Heidegger was forcefully brought up, without going into depth and thereby merely reinforcing the general thoughts concerning that relationship.
10 La cinquième saison (
Belgium, 2012. Most excellent, perhaps this should be the number 1. Not only due to the way it’s brought to the screen. But the story itself, the way people respond to the fact that after winter, no spring follows, is very original and perfectly shows humanity’s dependence on nature, and how ‘we’ behave in times of anguish and hunger. A must see film for everyone interested in life.
(Nymphomaniac probably also deserves a place… yet only came out this week…)
* Based on films that reached the Dutch cinema in 2013.

Ginger & Rosa

Ginger & Rosa

Let’s not be fooled by beauty. Some things are not going to be solved, and apologies are misplaced when you follow your principles. But what Ginger and Rosa (Sally Potter, 2012) does not show, is that sometimes principles can be wrong.
‘Ginger and Rosa’ gives us an interesting insight into the past without being just an historical situating of two girls growing up, but which is meaningful to us today. At least, it can be. Faced with a world that does not care, people react the same: they cling to whatever seems meaningful. The abandoned child reacts by entering into a fatal relationship with a father-figure. The child whose parents separate searches for something she can fix: the nuclear threat to wipe out humanity. The fact that these two similar reactions drive a friendship to a breaking point is due to circumstances. In a way the personalities are a distraction from what is really going on. Back then, just as it is now. Faced with nihilism, we need something to hold on to. Even when we know this substitution is a mere distraction.
The imagery in the film is absolutely stunning, as I expected from a Sally Potter movie (The Man Who Cried is still my favourite though). There is a certain slowness to the whole film, without it being obvious or annoying: it gives the whole a natural feeling. Ever seen anyone bite their fingernails in on the big screen, as if she was completely unaware of doing so?
What I would have liked, however, is the ending to have been different. The father is an important figure in the film, boasting about his principles and living by them, even when it hurts all the people around him. And although we might disagree with his principles, there is something heroic about this: choosing a difficult path by not going along with what is considered duty or normal. Then why, in the end, does he apologize for his behaviour? Faced with a world that does not care, he chose to care and be active, consciously. And apologies are totally misplaced when you’ve consciously made your decisions. What you could do in a situation in which you realize what you’ve done hurts others, is to change your principles. But don’t apologize for caring.