For this weekend, perhaps?

I realized I hadn’t posted on these 2 films yet, and while I’ve only seen 1 of them yet, I still wanted to put them out there in case you haven’t heard of them yet. They were both first released in 2011, but are now recently making their rounds in U.S. theaters, since they are both FOREIGN FILMS. 

The Kid with a Bike (Le Gamin au Velo)-dir. by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne (Belgium)

This is the one I saw about a month ago. Explores topics like violence/the justification of violence, parenthood/mentorship, and committed love and friendship.The film takes you into the world of the main character, the very frenzied, stubborn, and lonely boy who refuses to part with his bike on his quest to find his father, or just some sort of family and love.

The camera puts you in the boy’s perspective, with lots of tracking shots that involve quick movements and turns, much like the speed and determinedness of the boy. The color red stays with the boy and, through this loud color, makes him stand out from the rest of the characters and the cityscape in which he roams…this style caught my eye the most, I really liked the cinematography.

It’s quite heartwarming, actually. If you’re not willing to see it in theaters, its definitely worth the wait for Netflix (if they actually decide to keep feature films on instant queue *annoyed face*).

This next one I have not yet seen, but I hope I can watch it online soon so I can satisfy my curiosity! I kept hearing about it in film mags and blogs, and it actually looks really interesting! …despite what my friends said. :p

Jiro Dreams of Sushi -dir. by David Gelb (Japan)

Documentary-ish, this film looks at 85-year-old Jiro Ono and his life as a great sushi chef in a Tokyo subway station. His 10-seat, hole-in-the-wall restaurant is where he…dreams of sushi, and creates masterpieces that have caused him to receive 3 Michelin stars, one of the first sushi-only business to have done so.

I haven’t seen it, but I encourage you to, if you can! If you love sushi and/or getting that insider-view on a fascinating man’s life, then go see this! And tell me what you thought. 🙂
Here’s the trailer:

Yay Romanian Pride!


Recently, a friend referred this film to me and although I am very interested in Romanian cinema and especially films from the Romanian “New Wave” (internationally recognized films from 2005-today) I had never heard of this one until she told me about it. I’m so glad she told me about it. And now I’m telling you about it.

Balanta/The Oak (1992)-dir. by Lucian Pintilie

It was just as hilarious and strange as my friend described it, if not more. The style, aesthetics, and plot are way different from most of the “new wave” films of today, although I would say that that NBD (no big deal), shoulder-shrugging attitude that goes hand-in-hand with bleak, black-humour and is very reminiscent of post-communist Romania is still very present in this film.

[On a side note, I realized the main actress, Maia Morgensten, plays Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the “Passion of the Christ”]

I don’t want to give away the storyline, but I do want to put it out there that, if you plan to watch it, you just might be shocked by the dark humor and strange relations between people in the film.

In the world of this film (which very much resembles my experiences in Romania): Drama is pretty much thrown out the window…the camera takes on several perspectives, switching throughout the film, and barely reveals which characters it sides with, remaining mostly observational and neutral. Almost nothing is a big deal, anything can be laughed at or trivialized, because the harsh reality of life is just not worth facing. The film’s attitude is similar to that of other Romanian films in how it is neither sympathetic nor condemning…if anything, this characteristic, combined with the dark humor, seems to form somewhat of a loose Romanian-esque style.

Its really interesting how the plot starts out with grief, depression, and even nostalgia, but abruptly shifts into a light, funny, or ironic mood…this quick transition happens often in the film, which makes the main characters seem just slightly schizo… :p

The film is, obviously, rich in political discourse…there’s a very lively scene towards the end (which is also HILARIOUS, especially if you are Romanian or have been around Romanian family parties/gatherings) in which questions of capitalism, the economy of Romania, and religion get thrown around in a friendly debate..of sorts. You can watch the scene here, if you have a few minutes to spare: (i just realized there aren’t any subtitles in this clip, but there are english subtitles in the full length movie on youtube)

OMG THE DIALOGUE. I wanted to take so many screenshots of great lines, and totally absurd conversations, but they’re hard to catch in just one shot…the attitude towards the military is really great…in that it mostly pokes fun and doesn’t take anything they do seriously. In fact, there is a scene in which they are represented as cowardly and mindless. They randomly drop in to the characters’ lives and always interrupt the main storyline.

It was really fun to watch. It is definitely the most strangest Romanian film I have ever seen…the characters constantly take you by surprise and all the randomness seems welcomed and expected in the world of the film. Sometimes, the plot just takes a brief tangent and lingers there and it just adds to the density of the story and landscape.

So, since I should stop before I start rambling about the themes of violence and class politics in the film, I will simply recommend this to everyone.
You can easily watch it on Youtube with English subtitles.