Friday, May 15, 2009

The Class aka Entre les murs

France 2008

Details  imdb

Seen 14 May 2009

A French version of “To Sir With Love”?. Not quite. This does not have Sidney Poitier and Lulu but a more true to life depiction of the school room in the inner city of Paris. The main focus is the French class helmed by a dedicated teacher who takes an interest in his group of misfits. He tries to find the best in each student, despite the insolence and indiscipline he faces in the class room as well as the general atmosphere of futility among other teachers and the system.

But all his efforts do not bear fruit as desired. There are casualties along the way. The students are not in their best behaviour at school not because they are not intelligent or belligerent on purpose, but their surroundings have made them adjust and build up that barrier, a self preservation act in a way.

The subtitles in the version I saw was poor. I'm sure I've lost the subtleties of the repartee in the class but that should not stop the viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex

Germany 2008

Details  imdb

Seen 12 May 2009

A historical take at the notorious German revolutionary group. They started as idealists involved in one way or another in the student movement of the 1960s, when all sorts of radical ideas were brewing in campuses of the developed countries in the West. This was also the decade that saw the rise of people's power in a number of third world countries that had just emerged free from the colonial powers. A new Germany was also beginning to take shape, not just a nation of hard working people, building their nation after the ravages of war but with a sizable younger population born after the war who demanded a different approach to nationhood.

The leaders of this group believe the world needs a radical approach in order to change the existing imbalance prevalent in all spheres of society. But they seem to forget the innocent victims of their crusade. As always, does the end justify the means.

The film interspersed with footage of the 1960s and 1970s highlights the turmoil and dynamics within and without the group, influenced no doubt by other events and movements blooming everywhere. The director does not try to delve too deep into the trigger mechanism of the main players but does give an insight into their frame of mind throughout the existence of the group and how the authorities tried to contain them.

Required viewing for those who want to understand the whys and hows a group can be so popular despite the brutal and cold tactics that they utilise in pursuit of their goal.  

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Frozen Flower aka Ssang-hwa-jeom

South Korea 2008

Details  hancinema

Seen 7 May 2009

A flower, frozen? A metaphor for our prized possession, perhaps. In this tale, the king's hold over his flower ends tragically. The flower has not really seen the sun, or smelt the air outside the palace where he has been groomed since he was a small boy to be in the elite inner circle. A group of selected young boys groomed to protect the future king and in this case, he was the chosen flower for the king. Despite the innuendo and scathing remarks from his fellow guardsmen, he is steadfast in his loyalty to the king, to serve the king in all circumstances, to sacrifice his own life if need be.

But we are living in the era when vassal states are beholden to big brother and marriages of convenience are part of the scheme to expand the control over the far flung territories. So the flower has to make the ultimate sacrifice, sleep with queen as the king is not up to that task himself. So began, the flower's bloom. But of course not to everyone's liking.


Monday, May 04, 2009

100 Days Before The Command

Russia 1990

Details amazon

Seen 2 May 2009

Avant-garde? Surreal. I'm unsure but on the surface the film touches on the lives of a group of recruits who are preparing to go to the war front. They seem so young, child like in their innocence and eagerness to fight for the motherland. As trainings go, they endure the same hard regime to be expected of those who join the army. There may be a few sadistic leaders who are hell bent in breaking the spirit of the new men and we see casualties. But overall, there is a sense of being in solidarity, one big heart pumping in rhythm, waiting in anticipation for the big day when they will do battle.


Like A Virgin

South Korea 2006

Details  hancinema

Seen 29 April 2009

One of Madonna's biggest hits becomes a very apt title for this story. A story of longing, living not just existing. That is the ambitions and daydreams of a school boy, who feels that being a woman would at least hasten that reality. To become a woman needs money and fortunately for him the school wrestling coach sees a potential winner in that soft spoken, often bullied boy. There is a competition coming and the prize money is sufficient incentive for the boy to try his luck.

Before that big day however, there are challenges from all fronts; family, friends, a school crush and team mates.

The film has its fair share of slapstick but the actors kept a very straight face that we can't helped being amused. A first glance might say that this film is fluff but the story does touch on human foibles and strengths.


Revanche aka Revenge

Austria 2008

Details  imdb

Seen 25 April 2009

A small time burglar faces emotional torment when faced by the death of his girlfriend at the hands of the local village policeman. Does he seek revenge? The fact that he has to help his grandfather at the farm brings him close to his intended victim. But does he?

There are twist and turns as the policeman's wife is also involved in the tragedy. An eye for an eye, or would the revenge take another form, unwittingly.

The human psyche under duress.