Friday, February 03, 2006

this week's netflix

Head-On (a.k.a Gegen die Wand): Credited by some critics as contributing to a revitalization of Turkish cinema, this film follows two young Turks in Germany who marry to escape their own individual demons. Sibel wants to get out of her oppressive household and Cahit needs someone (whether he realizes it or not) to help him clean up his act. Oh so tragically, they learn that involving the other complicates the situation rather than aiding in their salvation. The film is compelling, horrifying, heartbreaking, and definitely worth renting. (Side note: For some reason that is unclear, at one point in the film, Cahit begins speaking in English and suddenly, I had a completely different impression of him. It was the first time I realized that watching foreign films doesn't allow for the viewer to assess the nuances of a character's intonation and how important that aspect of language is to fully understanding someone.)

Overnight: Ah, can only take you so far. This documentary of the rise and fall of momentary Hollywood player Troy Duffy is painful and fascinating to watch. Duffy went from a bartender to Harvey Weinstein's golden boy "overnight" and the film shows how his overwhelming arrogance and aggression may have caught the eye of the film magnate, but they eventually alienated him from every single person in his life. Throughout the entire viewing, I just wanted to yell "Shut the f*ck up!" both for his own protection and mine.

Broken Flowers: Jim Jarmusch's most recent film casts Bill Murray as an "aging Don Juan" who learns he has a son conceived 20 years before. The presumably retired computer exec, with help from a sidekick played charmingly by Jeffrey Wright, goes on a cross-country visit to locate the four women who may possibly be the mother. One of my favorite aspects of the film is that we see Don board a plane and debark in the next location without indication from Jarmusch as to where he may be. The drive from the airport to the maternal candidate's home is lovingly chronicled as neighborhoods in Anywhere, USA pass by outside the rental car windows. Once Don arrives at each destination, he finds Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, and Tilda Swinton - all portraying rich female characters despite their brief appearances on the screen. Their complexity highlights the empty shell in which Don lives. The premise is excellent - I spent much time imagining visits to lovers from my past and gauging what my reaction would be if they showed up on my doorstep.

Good Morning (a.k.a Ohayo): Yasujiro Ozu's 1959 film plays like a Japanese version of an episode of Bewitched (with flatulence instead of twitching noses). Two young boys refuse to speak after an argument with their parents in which they demand a television. I felt extremely ethnocentric in that I didn't get a lot of the jokes and then guessed that it might have been that, as an American, the joke was on me. One thing I did learn is that the suburban tract home ideal was apparently universal in the fifties.