Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Film Recommendations

A couple of films I've seen recently which are worth hunting down.

Le Grand Voyage
Dir: Ismael Ferroukhi, France/Morocco 2004, 1 hour 48 mins, with subtitles

Winner of the award for best first film at 2004's Venice Film Festival, this is a road trip with a difference. Reda, a second generation Moroccan living in an anonymous town in the South of France finds himself reluctantly coerced into chauffeuring his elderly father, Majid, to Saudi Arabia so the elderly patriarch can fulfill his obligation of performing the hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca. The 3,000 mile journey claustrophobically staged in a battered old car enables the disparate pair to acquaint themselves with each other while the constantly shifting backdrop provides a striking metaphor for the dynamics of their relationship. 'It's a carefully considered route with Ferroukhi testing the bonds of the relationship with every twist and turn.' The cinematography is stunning, especially the footage from Mecca itself.

Memorable dialogue:

Reda: Why didn't you fly to Mecca? It's a lot simpler.
The Father: When the waters of the ocean rise to the heavens, they lose their bitterness to become pure again...
Reda: What?
The Father: The ocean waters evaporate as they rise to the clouds. And as they evaporate they become fresh. That's why it's better to go on your pilgrimage on foot than on horseback, better on horseback than by car, better by car than by boat, better by boat than by plane.

Cache (Hidden)
Dir: Michael Haneke, France 2005, 1 hour 57 mins, with subtitles

An engaging thriller; a lucid critique of contemporary French society; a measured study of family life; an example of film as allegory; an exposition of guilt. Cache encapsulates all of the above

"Michael Haneke is a director who has developed and fine-tuned his craft over the past two decades to the point that 'Cache' feels like the purest distillation of his film-making style. Haneke closes with a shot which causes the viewer to re-evaluate everything he has just seen, which throws apart all the pieces of the puzzle you thought you had managed to fit together. 'Cache' is a stunningly clinical and intelligent film which commands the utmost attention throughout and will haunt the viewer's thoughts long after it has finished. It is a masterpiece from one of contemporary cinema's most important figures which plays on our deepest anxieties with devastating potency. For these reasons and more, it is essential viewing." (IMDB)

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