06 March 2013

Day 4 of the !f Festival

After 4 days of movie going (10 films in all!), I was a little wiped out and didn't update as promptly as I should have... But a few days later, some thoughts on the last two films I saw.

Queen of Versailles
I didn't get a chance to see it over the summer and was really looking forward to it. What a fascinating film. And one that people tend to have visceral, violent reactions to. It's fun to watch with other people, because it's interesting to see how people respond; what scenes make someone gasp, groan, or laugh. The movie chronicles the life of an obscenely rich family and then what happens to them after the financial crash. Predictably, you spend the first half of the movie being somewhat appalled by them, and gradually over the second half, you come to feel sorry for them. Not that the movie sugar coats things - you see, for instance, how their wealth basically comes from exploiting others (newsflash: a time share is never a good deal), how the woman who cares for their kids has literally not laid eyes on her own children in over ten years,  how the husband sees his wife as a child and the children see their mother as a trophy wife - pretty awful stuff.
  But I don't think the movie is pure schadenfreude. I was surprised by how much I liked the woman at the center of this movie. I think it is because there was no trace of snobbishness or contempt for others in her. She did not look down on people with less money than her at all. She seemed to completely grasp how utterly arbitrary it was in many ways that she happened to end up filthy rich and hard-working people around her didn't. That didn't extend, for the most part, into a desire to help them out, but at least it also didn't involve thinking less of them and feeling entitled to what she had. Which really made all the difference, to me.
  In any case, overall it is a pretty fascinating movie, very much worth watching.

In Another Country
An oddly charming film. The framing narrative (which sort of disappears halfway into the film) is a woman writing stories, but basically, the movie is three different vignettes, all starring the same actors. In each one, a French woman (played by the mesmerizing Isabelle Huppert) arrives in a small Korean town and interacts with the locals in different ways. Certain themes recur (a search for the local lighthouse; an incredibly friendly lifeguard; a shared meal) but in slightly different ways. It is neither an example of how the same place can appear completely different, nor an example of how different people see the same thing - it falls somewhere in between. Huppert is wonderful in her three different roles - as my friend Daniel remarked, especially masterful is the way her body language changes from character to character. It's a subtle film. Not a must-see movie per se, but one I am glad to have seen.

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