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The Idiots (1998)
Not exactly eye-candy but great movie because of it.
18 May 1999
I hesitated a long time before renting Lars Von Trier's 'The idiots', knowing it was a movie shot by the rules set in the 'Dogma 95' manifesto, I thought I'd hate it, as I tend to appreciate creative cinematography and editing and I knew the whole movie was shot 'from the hip' with a digital camera, natural lighting and no soundtrack . To put it mildly I was pleasantly surprised by the impact this style of moviemaking has, you hardly have the impression you're watching a movie, or a documentary, it just feels real. That, combined with the amazing acting and the subtle portrayals of everyone's mental state make this very unlikely story very believable. Set in Copenhagen it's about a group of yuppies who spend two weeks in a house in some fancy suburb to pretend to be mental retards or go out into the real world pretending to be a group of mental retards led by a supervisor. Their 'guru' is Stoffer, the charismatic tough somewhat naive pseudo-philosopher, who has this half-baked theory about mental retards, society and bourgoisie of which the essence escapes me, and at times it seemed to escape him too. Tough at first it seems everyone blindly follows Stoffer, throughout the movie you learn everyone has their own motives to spend two weeks in the idiot spa and apart from the ones with not much of a personality not many really buy his 'theories'. I guess this is what makes this movie too subtle for most critics (those I read anyway), there is no clear 'ending' where they all in unison renounce Stoffer and his viewpoints so a lot of people seem to interpret the movie as a hymn about changing the world by pretending to be retarded. While it's the lack of unison is what makes this movie great, it's not about the 'guru' and his flock, every character has it's own complex personality and they're all differently affected by the events. All this may sound like pretty heavy stuff, and at times it is, but the scenes of them on excursions are among the funniest you'll ever see, even if the rest is wasted on you they make the viewing worthwhile.
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Dear Diary (1993)
Caro diario, a little undiscovered gem of a movie, maybe a bit artsy, but never pretentious or boring.
21 April 1999
Caro diario (dear journal), is a little undiscovered gem of a movie, maybe a bit artsy, but never pretentious or boring. The main character is Nanni Moretti, the director, played by himself. Using a very original narrative, sometimes giving the impression you're watching a documentary only to be surprised when Nanni continues what the off-voice was saying to a guy in a convertible, it is an observation of different (and random) aspects of today's Italian society. In the first part Nanni rides around Rome on his vespa, alternating monologues commenting whatever's in sight with long cinematic scenes where the images and music ooze a mood that says all, the most memorable example of this being the visit to the beach where Passolini got murdered. In the second and most hilarious part he and a friend visit several Italian islands in search of peace and quiet. This part contains some Woody Allen-esque observations on human nature, tough comparing Moretti with Woody Allen would be underrating him, as making an island impossible to live on because it only consists of couples with a single child and illustrating it in such a witty manner seems far out of Allen's reach. The third part is Moretti's quest for a cure for his skin disease, taking him from doctor to homeopath to dermatologist and back. This seamed the lesser of the three parts, yet still very entertaining and funny tough somehow an anti-climatic ending to a great movie. And a great movie it is, certainly considering the director's favourite flic is 'Flashdance'.
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