Films seen in September 2010

My siblings and parents thought there weren’t any good films on TV, so when I suggested that I could rent some DVD’s, they thought it was a great idea. This month we have seen:

Defiance is a different kind of film with World War II as it’s subject. It depicts the eastern front in Belarus and Jewish refugees hiding from the Germans in the forest, thus depicting a different aspect of WWII than what is commonly shown. I applaud the film for it’s originality in this regard. The struggle against the Germans is not the only difficulty, in the film the protagonist takes revenge on those who murdered his family, and eventually needs to take harsh measures to maintain his leadership, which are shocking events and difficult to live with. I wonder what I would have done in his place, and if the actions were necessary? Even if they were cruel, I think they were. Near the end of the film the group of refugees needs to escape, and is rewarded after a terrible sacrifice. I think the events in the end carried a meaning in a second, deeper layer, because the events mimicked the Exodus.

After seeing the 2002 Brazilian film City of God (Cidade de Deus), I was looking forward to The Elite Squad, another Brazilian film depicting the harsh life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. The corruption depicted in this film goes so far that it’s baffling and amusing at the same time. City of God is a violent film, but this film even takes a step further. The officers of the special police force BOPE depicted in the film shoot first and ask questions later, they don’t mind gross torture either if it’s necessary. No doubt figures like Geert Wilders would love to have a police force like BOPE in The Netherlands to shoot football hooligans in the legs. I hope the extreme police brutality depicted in the film was at least slightly romanticized by the creators of the film. On the other hand, if in the Netherlands the regular police was an utterly corrupt mess and we had slums crawling with drug dealers, I’m not sure if I’d dislike the idea of having something similar to BOPE. What this film also shows is that the consumers of drugs are complicit in all kinds of misery in the production chain of drugs. They never see the suffering they’ve caused when they buy their drugs, and live with the illusion they have clean hands. They don’t realize they are in fact financing terrorism with their consumption because Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium and hashish in the world.

Because historical custome dramas are highly appreciated by my mother, I chose The Duchess. The Wikipedia article of Georgina Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, the protagonist of the film, doesn’t mention anything about the totally abusive nature of her relationship with William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire. I wonder if it’s romanticized? Of course the abuse is shocking. But it seems as if the abusive relationship serves as shock value to attract us to the film? I wonder how the relationship (as it happened in reality) would have been characterized by those living in the 18th century, instead of us from the 21st century? After all, I have the idea the film gives a very colored perspective, heavily influenced by feminism, on a person living in the 18th century. As a costume drama it succeeded without doubt, the 18th century scenery and clothes look amazing.

Probably no other film I’ve seen for quite some time has received as much praise as 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. The title seems cryptic, but it’s meaning will be revealed in the film and is quite fitting. A female student assisted by her roommate wants to have an illegal abortion performed in the final days of the Romanian communist regime. They expect it will be difficult, but they are proven to be naive when it becomes obvious that it will be a grueling endeavor. It is test of friendship. Memorable for me is the dinner scene the roommate attends, it shows a generation gap, but all the complaining done by the older generation is trivial compared to suffering the roommate has been put through at that moment.

I’m a fan of Jet Li’s work, of his more recent work I loved his films Unleashed (2005) and Fearless (2006). Of course Kiss of the Dragon (2001) deserves an honorable mention as well, but only for it’s well executed fight scenes. The film The Warlords is part of his recent work as well, but didn’t impress me as much as those other two. The relationship of the three brothers and Qingyun’s relationship with Liansheng could have been worked out better. This film definitely has an awesome, huge battle scene. While I wouldn’t object to it in Li’s other films, this a historical war film so the one-at a time attack rule of the Stormtrooper Effect which can be seen in this battle scene should be avoided. What I dislike most however is the dubbing of the film in English, and the absence of the option to use the Chinese audio track. This is ridiculous, because I don’t remember having rented any foreign language film in my DVD rental store which was dubbed. Films which I have discussed earlier such as Khadak and Ong Bak 2, which are respectively Mongolian and Thai language available at the DVD rental store, where dubbed. Whoever is distributing the film in Europe and decided it was good to dub it to English, shame on you, you destroyed the film. Please restrict the dubbed versions to elsewhere in Europe, in the Netherlands we’re smart enough to read subtitles.

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