Thursday, May 30, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
SOPHIE SCHOLL: THE FINAL DAYS (2005)
Very interesting docudrama about a real life incident of a young woman being arrested and interrogated in Nazi Germany for passing out anti-Nazi propaganda. The interrogation and the trial are both rooted in--and use actual dialogue from--actual record. I think Gerald Alexander Held was very interesting in his role as her interrogator, a man who owes his livelihood and advancement to opportunities given him by Nazi Germany, but who shows the possibility of humanity inside the bureaucracy, not yet openly believing many of the Nazi atrocities, but visibly shaken by them. There's not a lot of drama or suspense--the ending is a foregone conclusion, particularly given the title--but it's a very interesting documentation. ***
SEVEN UP! (1964)
SEVEN PLUS SEVEN (1970)
21 UP (1977)
28 UP (1984)
35 UP (1991)
42 UP (1998)
49 UP (2005)
I've wanted for years to finally sit down and watch this documentary series, and I'm glad I finally took the time. This came out of a news program in 1964 which took a cross-section of children from upper and lower class English society in an attempt to guess what the future of the country might be like (with a specific eye towards whether or not the English class system was still in effect and would continue to be). Every seven years, director Michael Apted has caught up with those kids, and we've seen how they develop across the span of each seven-year segment of their lives. It's observant and surprisingly engrossing. There are people (like Roger Ebert) who love these programs, and it's easy to see why. You do get pulled in. I felt a sort of hope and bewilderment at the same time, watching these people stay more or less who they already were then, but merely refining the raw material--often shaped by circumstance, opportunity, and inner traumas or desires--and doing the best or better with what they have, taking life as it comes and accepting life as it is. It's very thought-provoking, but also affirming, and reminding me, in a way, that whatever happens in life it will pass or it will change, and to accept life on its own terms and do what I can within that framework. All films **** stars.
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA (2013)
Becca really wanted to watch this one. I admit, I was expecting a train wreck, but was pleasantly surprised. This is a tender, involving film. Michael Douglas is excellent as Liberace, playing Liberace as a dimensional human being rather than the cartoon character I pretty much expected. He's matched by Matt Damon as Scott Thorson, Liberace's lover, who holds himself back just a little bit from Liberace, never really going all in on this love affair (I would imagine because of his own rocky upbringing, which lacked stability and which can often turn people suspicious of being truly happy). Liberace, however, proves to be something of a facade himself, giving Scott what amounts to the illusion of security, and by the time Scott truly realizes it, he's caught in a spiral of lashing out (fueled by drug addictions). It's fascinating to watch the two reach out to one another from their own separate paranoia, unable to really completely give themselves fully, and then see them reveal just enough to truly hurt one another. There's a connection there, and director Steven Soderbergh and the actors really find it, but it's a connection that is never fully allowed to blossom because of the personalities involved. It's devastating. Gorgeously made, with two excellent performances. I know I've only seen six films so far this year, but this is easily the best one. ****