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Tragic theme undermined by clichés
This film takes on a tragic theme-- the plight of widows in India. Unfortunately it is so riddled with clichés that, for me at least, it's impact was undermined. An eight year old girl wakes up to be told by her father that she is a widow. She is taken to an ashram to live with a group of mostly old women, also widows. Among them is a young, beautiful and rather European looking widow. There is a love story with a handsome, idealistic man, who is willing to break taboos to marry a widow. Set in 1938 the film tries to portray the conflict with old traditions and modernity. Gandhi even gets a cameo. While Water is beautifully filmed, in the end I felt that I had watched a piece of glossy propaganda, albeit for a good cause.
Aruitemo aruitemo (2008)
This beautiful film introduces the viewer to three generations of a Japanese family as they gather at the home of the parents/grandparents. Through the movie we discover a lot about the complex emotional relations between them. The oldest son has died some years earlier and his memory is central to the family. Influenced by the great filmmaker Ozu, this film moves in a slow, contemplative pace. Nonetheless the discoveries the viewer makes about the family members burst quietly and sustain the viewer's interest in the family. The intensity of the relationships in the family and the film's close focus on them left me feeling, just as in life, both that I knew these people well and that there was a lot that I didn't know about them. I will watch this film again to see what more I can learn about these people.
Hello Lonesome (2010)
Slight, but sweet and enjoyable
This is a sweet, not twee, slight film that was quite enjoyable. The theme of people, like birds, moving on after their nests have been disturbed is an important one. The film attempts to convey this rather abstract idea by using the technique of cross cutting between three stories to sustain the viewer's interest. The fact that these stories don't intersect and have only a subtle thematic connection creates a film where the whole seems less than the sum of the parts. That this apparently was the director's first full length film makes sense since it feels like three shorts that have been spliced together. Each of the stories is touching and does create feeling for the characters. I do think the writer/director has real talent and i will look out for his next film.
Brother Born Again (2001)
Moving documentary about a family coming together
Paul Pimsleur (of the language method) died when his son Marc was 10 and his daughter Julia was 8. This documentary film is set at a time when Marc is 32 and Julia 30 and they have been separated for a decade-- separated both physically (he in Alaska, she in New York) and ideologically (he a born again Christian, she bisexual). What I found remarkable about this film was how what seems to be the power of their desire to knit their 'little family' back together allows them establish a caring relationship in spite of their differences. The film also showed how Marc's religious experience and membership in a religious community helped him overcome what he acknowledged were serious psychological difficulties, without depriving him of the ability to respond warmly to his family. Although he might be characterized as ideologically rigid, it was moving to see that he was not a robot. The emotional depth (not to mention the beautiful scenes in Alaska) of this film make it well worth watching.