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This Must Be the Place (2011)
A guy who tries to avenge his father. Or not.
Took me by total surprise. OK, the main character is an aging rock star confronted with the tragedy his estranged father survived. But, really, does it matter that he/she is a rock star between glamor (the lip stick will take us back to Rockie Horror ...), all sort of pains linked to aging, search for well earned comfort and plain boredom (the film reminds us that we may all be at that point -- all the time?)? This wonderfully minimalist film asks quite directly about memory in our own lives. Buried (voluntarily or circumstantially)? showbiz (who gains what from remembering tragedies? or, as the film finally claims, mere distraction (are we not all bored?)? The clash between the Holocaust in Cheyenne's life and his passive determination to refuse to know puts the spectator on the edge for virtually two hours, which the exceptionally precise and surprising camera work only accentuates. Those close ups that summarize a person in two seconds! Those pans on landscapes that translate a entire state! "This must be the place" will remind us that cinema is before all, photography: well organized strings of moving images. And sound track. References to Mike Jagger and images of David Byrne are so, so clever. The fact that Patrick Modiano (please google him) was in the theater when I saw TMBTP at the Arlequin cinema in Paris made the whole experience even stronger. Sean Penn and Frances McDormant are beyond, beyond fabulous (and seemed to truly enjoy acting in it) Thanks to both! I cannot wait to see it again. And again. And....
Una vita tranquilla (2010)
Ain't easy to change your life and the life of those you have affected before. Any way out ever?
Saw it with Jet lag, just because it was playing at the right time at the small indie theater next to where I stay in Paris (and I do not know how widely released in the US). Gripping to say the least. After all the bubble gum US movies of this past summer (2011), A Quiet Life came to me as a totally amazing surprise. With no cheap thrill, very little camera effects, the plot progresses so slowly but so intensely, revealing only bit by bit, and often quite subtly and obliquely,layers and layers of deep human drama. About the mafia yes. But about bad choices that seem reversible but... about deep relationship between father(s) and son(s), about estranged brothers, about loyalty, trust, resentment, appearances and deeply ingrained feelings, protection and self protection, and all types of love. The sociological background that raises (again subtly) questions around multi language/cultural environment, border crossing, immigration adds to the already complex psychological web, although I wonder if some of it may not be lost in translation (and in subtitles)-- For me: as deeply moving as the Godfather. Yes.