Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Weekend viewing

Head-On (Fatih Akin, 2004)
This is another one that I've had sitting by the TV for a long time and finally got around to after seeing it on a number of top ten lists. It started a little slow and seemed for a bit to be going in a disappointingly conventional direction, but ended up a fairly unpredictable and powerful story about unexpected love. It's strangely subversive the way it sets up its protagonists as anti-tradition iconoclasts only to have them find true love in what is essentially an arranged marriage. The irony of the situation, especially for German Turk Sibel, isn't overplayed, though, instead just woven in as one element of the baffling and sudden onset of love.

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)
And, speaking of the baffling and sudden onset of love, this is a lovely and incredibly romantic film that doesn't involve a single kiss or caress. I saw one of Wong's early films, Days of Being Wild, a few months ago, and found it chaotic and unfocused and a disappointment given all the praise I've read of his work. But this movie is as focused as a laser and heartbreakingly methodical in its portrait of unconsummated love. It might even be a good companion to Brokeback Mountain, illustrating another way that society in the past kept people in love apart. Like Ang Lee, Wong uses austere and measured camerawork to portray the unspoken gulf between his two protagonists. Unlike Days of Being Wild, this completely confirms for me all the wonderful things I've read about Wong's films.

The Witches of Eastwick (George Miller, 1987)
Sometimes I just want to watch a silly '80s blockbuster, and I suppose this fit the bill, although it's sort of surprising to me that it was considered one of the best movies of the year when it was released. It's a lot of winking at the audience about religion and sexuality while remaining tame and even sort of prude about what's actually on-screen, a ridiculously hammy performance from Jack Nicholson and a wildly inconsistent tone. One of those films that I imagine engenders fond memories in direct proportion to how long it's been since it was first seen.

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