Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mondays in the Sun (2002)

Set in the Spanish port city of Vigo, Fernando León de Aranoa's Mondays in the Sun is a touching drama about a group of working-class men who find themselves suddenly unemployed and unwanted in their middle age. Laid off from the local shipyard, the men spend their days at the town bar, where they reminisce, philosophize, and commiserate about their current state. Gruff Santa (a bearded Javier Bardem) puts up a tough front, refusing to sink into self-pity, and occasionally pricking his friends' hopes. Morose José (Luis Tosar) openly worries about his wife, whom he fears might leave him. That seems to have been the fate of Amador (Celso Bugallo), the oldest of the bunch, who keeps reassuring everyone that his wife will be back any day now from her trip. Meanwhile, Lino (José Ángel Egido) refuses to give up hope of employment, going to interview after interview for jobs being offered to applicants half his age. Presiding over the glum bunch is Rico (Joaquín Climent), the bar owner and the men's co-worker from the shipyard days. Despite its depressing subject and downbeat mood, Mondays in the Sun was a big winner at the 2003 Goya Awards, Spain's equivalent of the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Bardem. The film was also Spain's surprise representative for the 2003 Oscars' Foreign Language film category, nabbing the distinction over Pedro Almodóvar's critically lauded Talk to Her. ~ Elbert Ventura, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 113 mins
Mondays in the Sun (2002)

I found it dull, boring and insipid. The characters could have been interesting enough especially Gruff the gruff one but nothing really sticks out as nothing more than losers complaining about how bad they have it. But at least one person seems to have gotten into the movie at: "Full of sympathy for the worker's plight." Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz.
Jose's wife Ana (Nieve de Medina) works the night shift of an assembly line at a fish processing plant that pays little and exploits the workers with poor working conditions, but she's the family breadwinner just waiting for the day when she can tell the bosses to go fuck themselves and she can come home without having to deodorize herself from the fish smell. But she seems tired of her husband's despair and low self-esteem, and their marriage is becoming strained as Jose is becoming a shell of a man unable to even communicate with her.
I unfortunately missed that idea about the fish smell when she spent inordinate amounts of time using the spray deodorant.

The scene with the rich parents kids away and the four men hanging out drinking was quite creepy as well as the flirts between Gruff and Nata (Aida Folch) the 15 year old daughter of the bartender. He even does it openly at the bar but ultimately when given a chance for a rendezvous at his apartment he sneaks out. But at other times Nata is distant to Gruff as they meet outside the young boys house to discuss the transaction for babysitting which is just an excuse for the four men to drink at the "man's" house.

Overall not worth the effort to read...

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Man Without a Past (2002)

Aki Kaurismaki's The Man Without a Past opens with the title character (Markku Peltola) being savagely beaten. At the hospital he is declared dead, but he sits up and walks out on his own power. He is taken in by a mother and her two sons, discovers an old jukebox that inspires local musicians, and discovers he has skills as a welder. When he becomes unwittingly involved in a bank robbery, and the man is unable to give the police his name, the cops send out feelers trying to figure out the man's identity. Soon his wife appears. The Man Without a Past was screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival where it was awarded the Grand Prix, the most storied prize after the Palme D'Or. ~ Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 97 mins
The Man Without a Past (2002)
Although another foreign film that is quite slow in the development of the story line, I found the character of "M" to be very interesting and a certain curiosity about him in the movie. While we do get some background on him from the time he meets his wife, there is just so many unanswered questions that still create the tense feelings in the movie dialogue. In the end we do not need to know what his past is since he changed after the mugging. He even confronts his attackers later but the plot does not indicate that he remembered them also as the kids also show no remorse for their thug actions.

I am sure to also put Lights in the Dusk (2006) on my movie queue.

The Man Without a Past From Wikipedia
The film begins with an unnamed man arriving by train to Helsinki. After falling asleep in a park, he is mugged and beaten by hoodlums and is severely injured in the head, losing consciousness. He awakes and wanders back to the train station and collapses in its bathroom. He awakes the second time in a hospital and finds that he has lost his memory. He starts his life from scratch, living in container dwellings, finding clothes with help from the Salvation Army and making friends with the poor.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Russian Ark (2002)

Modern Intellectual 1: For us, detail is more interesting.
Look closely here.
A chicken and a cat are in the foreground.
They are symbolic figures.
The chicken represents greed, avarice...
the cat, cynicism and cruelty.
Cynicism and Cruelty... The cat...
They are both calmed by the birth of John.
French Marquis: Interesting.

Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov broke boundaries with his dreamlike vision of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russian Ark. It's the first feature-length narrative film shot in a single take (on digital video, using a specially designed disc instead of tape). Russian Ark is shot from the point-of-view of an unseen narrator, as he explores the museum and travels through Russian history. The audience sees through his eyes as he witnesses Peter the Great (Maksim Sergeyev) abusing one of his generals; Catherine the Great (Maria Kuznetsova) desperately searching for a bathroom; and, in the grand finale, the sumptuous Great Royal Ball of 1913. The narrator is eventually joined by a sarcastic and eccentric 19th century French Marquis (Sergey Dreiden), who travels with him throughout the huge grounds, encountering various historical figures and viewing the legendary artworks on display. While the narrator only interacts with the Marquis (he seems to be invisible to all the other inhabitants), the Marquis occasionally interacts with visitors and former residents of the museum. The film was obviously shot in one day, but the cast and crew rehearsed for months to time their movements precisely with the flow of the camera while capturing the complex narrative, with elaborate costumes from different periods, and several trips out to the exterior of the museum. Tilman Büttner, the director of photography, was responsible for capturing it all in one single Steadicam shot. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 96 mins
Russian Ark (2002)
A truly beautiful picture, and well worth watching it with the commentary also afterwards, and that is not the drugs talking {cold}.

It was not an historical documentary but a fantasy of what the French Marquis might have said if he got to visit the museum that spanned throughout 300 years of Russian History. I like the subtlety of the French Marquis references to some of the historical events did not make it any easier. But luckily, I don't know any Frenchmen so the can go ----. Bullox!