Friday, November 5, 2010

Insomnia (1997)

Norwegian filmmaker Erik Skjoldbjaerg makes his directorial debut with the psychological police drama Insomnia. Swedish homicide detective Jonas Engström (Stellan Skarsgård) and his partner, Erik Vik (Sverre Anker Ousdal), arrive in a small Northern Norwegian town to help the local police investigate the murder of a teenage girl. When Jonas finds the girl's backpack, he sets a trap for the killer near a remote shed. While waiting to make an ambush in the morning fog, Jonas accidentally shoots Erik. He knows it was only an accident, but he decides to keep it a secret because he could lose his job. Jonas chooses to carry on with his investigation while trying to cover up the evidence of Erik's death. Meanwhile, he's unable to get any sleep due to the constant sunlight of the Norwegian summer and his increasingly guilty conscience. His only help comes from highly intuitive local police officer Hilda Haugen (Gisken Armand), who begins to form her own doubts about Jonas. As he continues to lose his grip on the case at hand, he becomes dangerously close to the suspects, Jon Holt (Bjørn Floberg) and Frøya (Marianne O. Ulrichsen). Filmmaker Christopher Nolan directed the English-language remake of Insomnia in 2002 with Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 97 mins
Insomnia (1997)

After recently watching all of the Dexter series on DVD, it was natural to see the same aspects with the detective especially with respect of getting too close to the perpetrator. The perp also was meticulous about covering up evidence that could implicate him. He also seemed to confess that he had been doing it for 20 years because fiction became too boring to him and wanted real life situations.

Although this was not one of the best films I have watched recently, it still portrayed the frustration with not getting any sleep and his anguish over killing his partner better than the remake version. Also, there seemed to be a certain sexual tension that the remake did not have, probably due to ratings considerations. Like in one scene the detective fiddles with the teenage girl in his car and we see her having sex with the victims boyfriend later on. The detective watches the scene from behind the door as he was interrupted leaving the murder weapon under his bed.

Nothing special for the special features on the disc, but the disc comes with a small pamphlet which has the following passage:
,Skarsgard creates a man who is outwardly assured while harboring profound insecurities within. He cannot handle any kind of intimacy, nor can he come to terms with his responsibility for the death of Vik. He sustains his identity by adhering to certain moral precepts; once he has broken one of these principles, he becomes truly dangerous...
Sounds like Dexter, or at least some of killers he gets rid of.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rachida (2002)

Directed by Yamina Bachir, this French film chronicles the life of Rachida, a young divorcee who lives with her mother and works as a teacher at a local school. Her life is turned upside-down, however, when she goes to work without wearing a veil over her face. This leaves her prey to a band of terrorists, who promptly kidnap her and instruct one of their members to bomb the school. Despite being left for dead, Rachida manages to survive and take refuge in the country side. Rachida was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, and features Ibtissem Djouadi, Bahia Rachedi, Rachida Messaouden, Zaki Boulenafed, and Amel Chouikh. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 100 mins
Rachida (2002)

Although the film makes it an issue about not wearing a veil, the terrorists used that purely as an excuse and wanted her to plant the bomb in her classroom. Only an idiot would agree to that!
Dust Jacket:
Rachida, a young and self-assured teacher at an elementary school, becomes the target of terrorists when she refuses to place a bomb in her classroom. This acclaimed debut feature offers a unique glimpse into the lives of ordinary citizens in Algeria, where terrorism was commonplace during the civil conflict of the 1990s.

From reading that it sounds like she was approached in the classroom when she was actually approached on the street in broad daylight. They were accosting her for what seemed like along time while no one came to her defense. Only after the shooting and the terrorists left the bomb next to her, did people come out to help.

That pattern then repeats as for most of the film is after she leaves Algiers and moves into a rural community to also teach in a school. There she also experiences the thugs and brutality of the "terrorists". In the end she does manage to pick up the pieces and to start teaching her remaining students in the broken down school.

All the way through the film, I kept expecting Rambo or an Arnold Schwarzenegger character to jump out and defend the community. No one tries to become the hero and they only flee and coward at the criminal gangs. It seems obvious that they needed neighbor watch programs and an armed militia. Not a single police was observed in the rural areas and the police only showed up after the shooting on the street to dispose of the bomb. There government was corrupt and crooked, but resorting to terrorism to make political statements was not the case but excuses to victimize civilians.

Very good film overall even if it was not a typical American film of good and bad with a Superhero to save the day. Foreign commentators have noted on occasions that many countries do not have the Superman hero to save the day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bolivar I Am (2002) {Bolivar Soy Yo}

Director Jorge Ali Triana attacks political corruption and historical accuracy in entertainment in his satirical 2002 film Bolivar Is Me. Actor Santiago Miranda (Robinson Diaz) is cast in a Latin American television miniseries chronicling the legendary revolutionary Simon Bolivar's life. The hyper-sensitive actor -- whose mental well-being was already questionable -- snaps when forced to perform a revisionist version of Santiago's death. As the actor angrily leaves the set, he also takes leave of his senses and believes himself to actually be Bolivar. Furthermore, he assumes Bolivar's mission to unite Latin America -- which shocks his producers and provides a rather unexpected opportunity for the local political leaders. Bolivar Is Me was viewed at the 2002 Los Angeles Latino Film Festival. ~ Ryan Shriver, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 112 mins
Bolivar I Am (2002)

Dust Jacket:
An engaging, hilarious and entertainment delusion ("Bolivar is back, Bolivar is in campaign, Bolivar is crazy"). A satire and humorist film that portrays with great irony the violent and strange world in which all Latin Americans of the 21st century live in. The actor, Santiago Miranda, abandons the production set of the popular soap opera "The Lovers of The Liberator" because he doesn't agree with the script considering is a misunderstanding of history and instead flees toward delusion. Balancing between lucidity and madness , Miranda is also determined to finish Bolivar's dream of creating the "The Great Columbia": a strong and unified state consisting of 5 Latin-American countries and ignite the rebuilding of a region that faced 160 years of internal war.

The first part was really on the boring side and the idea of a film about films often comes across as dull and insipid. The ending did finally pick up some momentum {last 15 minutes of film} and slightly more interesting when the rebels took over the ship.

There is a couple of parts when discussing the motives of the particular real people that each person has a different interpretation of history-and sometimes almost diametrical different.

They do use "America" a few times and wonder if it is a snub at the USA or just trying to make a point, that I readily agree with. "America" has become synonymous with the US and thus the other millions of "Americans" are not included in that definition.

The ending was pretty predictable as the opening scenes had a similar leitmotif. Reset button technique was used but then it becomes hard to distinguish between reality and fantasy. I suppose that that was the technique they were trying for, in the mind of Miranda.