What I Peeped: Day Nine

April 12, 2008 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

You the Living

Brick Lane (Sarah Gavron, UK): Why do I so hate films about causes with which I’m sociopolitically sympathetic? Because I hate being told what I already know? Because I’m physically allergic to hamhanded polemic? Because I’m just a grump malcontent? Sarah Gavron’s tale of an oppressed Bengladeshi woman in a miserable arranged marriage in miserable old London hits every single one of these point and others besides. D.p. Robbie Ryan knows how to craft a sensual, colorful image, but screenwriters Laura Jones and Abi Morgan (adapting a Monica Ali novel) are pure hambone. It’s not enough for Tannishtha Chatterjee’s meek protagonist to be stuck in an arranged marriage; her hubby must also be tubby, arrogant, selfish, pump her for loveless coitus and force her to trim his corns. (And he snores!) Of course, Brick Lane is just setting it up so that this louse can become sympathetic at the 11th hour, a more reputable man than Chatterjee’s dashing young afairee who turns into one of those angry Muslim activists after 9/11 mucks up racial relations. Pure ew.

You the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden)
(pictured): As usual, I was right: Roy Andersson’s follow-up to his absurdist masterpiece Songs From the Second Floor (rent it!) is if not also an absurdist masterpiece, then at least really, really damn good – easily my favorite of the festival. Like Songs, Living consists of a series of impossibly deadpan black-out sketches about life and misery in modern day Sweden. Some of them have a classical comic structure to them, as one about a guy’s dream involving an unlikely cause for capital punishment. Others are just pure non-sequitur. Others still have a nutty but genuinely moving undertow to them. The mix of recurring characters, comic set-ups and dreams is reminiscent of Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and Andersson, in only his second feature, exudes a similar mastery over his film – it’s effortlessly melancholic and hilarious, and even has a finale reminiscent of some of Buñuel’s later work. Just make sure you arrive on time (or remember the details of first scene – thanks, Jer!). Otherwise the finale makes not much of the sense.

I was going to finish the day with the awesomely named Timecrimes (the long-awaited sequel to the MST3K classic Time Chasers?). But I felt the need for a slight break from my three-films-a-day average, and besides, on draft Leffe beckoned. I’ll get back to being hardcore this weekend.

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Entry filed under: Reviews.

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