This Week In Cinema: April 14-20, 2013

tillsammans

Those darn Swedes and their hippie communes!

Only three films this week,

Die Große Stille (Into Great Silence, 2005, Philip Gröning, France/Germany/Switzerland) **

I don’t want to say that Die Große Stille was boring, and I know a lot of people hate the criticism that a film is boring. But, I’m not one of those people, and Die Große Stille bored me to tears. The subject matter didn’t interest me, and I never felt that the documentary wanted to actually engage me as a viewer. There were interesting areas that Philip Gröning’s film could have explored, but it never did. Why do the monks only sometimes talk? What do the monks think about the changing world around them? How have the practices of the monks changed throughout the years? The documentary doesn’t tackle any of these areas, rather it presents an elongated and matter of fact look into the daily routines of the monks. Problem is, stretched out to two hours and forty one minutes the approach the documentary takes is exhausting, and not in a good way. I wanted Die Große Stille to be over about twenty minutes into the film, and that’s certainly not a quality I look for in a film.

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988, Giuseppe Tornatore, France/Italy) ***

Giuseppe Tornatore’s heart is in the right place, but his execution is a bit lacking. I liked Nuovo Cinema Paradiso well enough, but I had a lot of trouble with the final message of the film as well as the predictability of a few of the plot elements. When a fire happens it’s obvious that the fire and end result of said fire are both going to happen. When two characters say they’ll write to one another it’s far too obvious that the film is heading towards the familiar young love lost trope. In way too many ways Nuovo Cinema Paradiso is predictable, even if it’s whimsy hides most of the films faults. Said whimsy allows the film to get away with a lot in terms of plot and structure. The whimsy couldn’t help me completely get over the film’s support of the message that you need to leave everything behind in life and become your own person. That’s simply not a message I agree with, and I didn’t care for the way the film handled that message. There are some nice directorial flourishes in Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, and when it’s being whimsical the film has a charm to it. But, the predictability of the story really does drag the picture down.

Tillsammans (Together, 2000, Lukas Moodysson, Denmark/Italy/Sweden) ***

I never completely engaged with Tillsammans, and I’m not sure why. It’s a fine enough film, with a lot of moving parts that work well together. I laughed when the film was being comedic, and I thought the films dramatic beats were well constructed. The characters and the political aims of the film didn’t bother me, although the characterization on display is a mite shallow. Out of everything in Tillsammans the breezy nature of the film is probably why I had such a hard time engaging with the picture. The film didn’t need for there to be high stakes, but I felt the film suffered from a lack of urgency. Even though all the pieces were in place I didn’t find that Lukas Moodysson did enough for me to be completely drawn into this world and these characters. When Tillsammans ended I thought, “eh, that was okay,” and honestly, that’s as honest of an appraisal as I can give the film.

Wrap-Up:

Not a real strong field of movies this week. Still, I enjoyed Tillsammans the most of all, and that’s why it takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill

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