Indie Log: Metro Manila

Metro Manila - poster
For some reason — maybe the poster artwork — I thought Metro Manila was going to be a highly stylized, slick action pic.  But it’s hardly anything of the sort; rather, it is a brutal, straightforward depiction of a family attempting to survive abject poverty in a place where it is readily commonplace.

Especially regarding the wife, Metro Manila avoided plumbing the ultimate depths it might have.  But make no mistake: this is a great, suspenseful foreign indie.  8/10

Availability: Netflix

Holy See Log: Babette’s Feast

MIRTH is the operative word here.

Pope Francis continues to surprise and delight me.  What a breath of fresh air in the world!  His latest comments regarding Donald Trump brought me beyond mirth — they downright filled me with glee.  And last year when he was visiting the U.S., I was surprised to find out he’s a film buff; see “Pope Francis’ three favorite movies to be shown at Philadelphia theater.”  I had heard of Babette’s Feast some time ago; Fellini’s La Strada was already in my queue, and I’ve now added Rome, Open City.

Babette’s Feast draws multiple parallels to Big Night, and the comparisons bring about even deeper musings about life and our place in the world than either film does by itself.  Big Night is unquestionably the better film, but that could be said about most any other movie, as Big Night defines film.

There is one rather serious flaw in Babette’s Feast: people don’t live forever.  Time moves aggressively forward in the film, but the characters seem largely age-defying.  This flaw is hardly a deal-breaker, though.

Rita Kempley, The Washington Post:

This deceptively modest story, with its quiet colors and contemplative characters, actually teems with contrasts and subtle dynamics. The eternal burn of the artist vies with the cold fire of the puritan’s denial. Serious as it all sounds, Axel and his fine cast interpret Dinesen’s ironic original with great charm and gentle comedy.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

It is as if the portions of everyday sensuality they have refused all their lives are now to be totalled up and paid to them all at once in this remarkable feast, just when they must bid farewell to the world, with all its pleasures and vanities. Twenty-five years on, the story is still charming and beguiling.

Babette’s Feast — full of mirth and charm — almost defies a numerical rating, but when I have to get down to business I render an 8/10.

Availability: iTunes rental

Comparison Notes (all highly recommended): Local Hero, Breaking the Waves, Big Night

VOD Log: Blue Caprice

A note on the BLOG.  I have not lost interest in the blog, but I’ve slowed down a lot in the first couple months of 2016 because there has been absolutely nothing in the theaters that interests me.  You’d think the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, which was well received by critics, would be hot on my list to go see.  It just isn’t.  I have no interest in it at all.  I’m not a big George Clooney fan (though I have nothing against him), and it seems like Clooney + Coen brothers = ‘bad movie.’

Deadpool, too, has been well received, but I just don’t want to see a lot of up-close crotch shots.  Got my dose of that in the previews.  Beyond those two there’s been little to motivate a trip to the cinema.  But this is the time of year typically Blue Caprice - posterblessed with some good indies, and The Witch [prior post] is at the top of that list.  So I’ve been watching more at home, namely a few movies and more Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul — a summary post will be coming on that subject.  First, to get it out of the way:

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Blue Caprice, on an absolute scale, is not a terrible movie.  But when you depict actual events, especially ones as well publicized as these, you’re held to another standard.  Not a standard that’s any more difficult to meet, mind you, just a standard that states that the actual events must be respected.  And boy is Blue Caprice full of disrespect.  It seems to deliberately ignore the most salient facts of the case.

Wikipedia:

Their crime spree began in February 2002 with murders and robberies in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and Washington, which resulted in seven deaths and seven injuries, bringing the ten month shooting spree total to 17 deaths and 10 injuries

You might expect a filmed dramatization of these events to maybe tell that story — but with Blue Caprice, not so much.  From the movie you’d never know they were in any of those places other than Washington state.  A couple of the attacks are arbitrarily shown while most are not, even while other facts are misreported.  If the film had depicted the full rampage of devastation wrought by these two we’d have one helluva movie.

Blue Caprice - text block

The Beltway sniper attacks were a crime spree up there with Bonnie & Clyde.  This is not quiet meditation.  There can be quiet, meditative moments, but this is a tale of extreme, grisly, loud violence.  I appreciate that the film was focusing on the ‘father & son’ relationship.  But the explosive, fatal events that happened should not be treated as a mere tangent to your story.

This filmmaker decided to ignore the core story at hand in the name of showing off his artsy-fartsy filmmaking virtuosity.  What a wasted opportunity.  3/10