Posted by: kfugrip | August 6, 2007

Realizing goals… well, sort of

I watched two films, one each direction, during my flights associated with a wedding.  Kelly bought a portable DVD player last year, it’s an all-region player as well, because our trip to and from Hawaii was so bad that we thought distraction while flying was the answer… and the movies we were shown on those Hawaii flights (Catwoman, Shall We Dance, Ice Age II, and some movie about a kid with cancer) were so terrible that the control provided by a portable DVD player was just what the doctor ordered.  The downside to such a player is that you are watching a movie and movies are supposed to be projected on a screen 30 feet high (or so) and the tiny seven inch screen that I viewed the movies on was less than ideal.  With these obstructions noted we proceed to the subject of the actual films.

Summer with Monika, by Ingmar Bergman, was the first film on my plate.  I had promised myself that I would watch at least one Bergman film and this was the first one in my DVD binder.  The film is about a young couple who quit their jobs, steal a boat, and live on an island where Monika becomes pregnant.  They move back to the city, marry, and begin their lives together.  It is then that it all unravels and ends in heartache.

In typical Bergman fashion the landscape of the face is most important.  Monika, played by Harriet Anderson, is the most erotic character I’ve seen in a Bergman film and it is her character that drives the drama here.  She is a child really, living in a dream world, and commenting more than once on the way her life resembles a film.  It appears as if she is playing a role at times, rather than actually feeling and reacting in a natural way.  Being the catalyst of the film, and the title character, doesn’t make it a film from her point of view, however.  The story is told from the prospective of Harry, played by Lars Ekborg, a working class boy who wants to make a nice life for his wife and newborn.  One senses from the beginning that this story has no happy ending and that the bliss of the summer will crumble by winter.

I enjoyed the film, and the performances.  Bergman knew how to craft a story and let the drama unfold in the most natural and interesting way possible.  While his shooting style, which contains many close-ups, irritates and distracts me in other filmmakers, in this case it supports the story and is an organic extension of what he believes is most important: people.  4 stars.

monika.jpg

On the way back I watched Last Resort, by Pavel Pawlikowski.   The presence of Paddy Considine and Dina Korzun drew me to this film and payed off.  The movie is about a young Russian mother, Tanya, and her son, Artiom, who move to England to be with Tanya’s fiance.  The fiance never picks them up from the airport so they declare that they are refugees and live in a camp in Stonehaven.  Things do not go well for Tanya, who realizes that she cannot live on dreams of romance with men, that she must learn to live without them before she can be happy and successful in love.

Pawlikowski is a director whose work I had never seen.  I am interested in seeing more of his films because this one was so elegantly directed.  The performances were pitch perfect and the manner in which the drama unfolded was very like how I described Bergman’s film earlier, very natural and organic.  The plight of the immigrant and the poor will always interest me if well done, and this is one of those examples.  While I believe that there is quite a bit of hand-held camera working in this film, it was nearly invisible as I can’t remember if it was there or not.  This film is a perfect example of using the language to effect.  When  Alfie, Considine’s character, attacks another character in the film, it is done with jump cuts and tight, mobile, camera work.  So many films today are shot this way, entire films, and it numbs the mind after a few minutes.  In this case it was used as counter point to the method of shooting the rest of the story.

I liked this movie quite a bit and wish I had seen it on a bigger screen, because I think it would have been even more effective.  4 stars.

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