Friday, April 01, 2005

I was noticing that the last three Netflix films we saw were in some way about violence, although with the first one I'm cautious af making many judgements.

Andrei Rublev is a period piece about the famous Russian icon painter of the 15th century. It's a strange film in many ways, especially as it never once, in three and a half hours, shows the title character painting anything. It does feature some of the most extraordinary violence I've ever seen in a film in a sequence where the site of a cathedral under construction is attacked by Mongols. First time I've ever seen a cow on fire.

While I appreciated the artistry and skill of Tarkovsky, I was a bit baffled all the way through. The second film was much more accessible to americans: Changing Lanes. The story follows the path of two men who collide on a busy road in NYC. The wealthy, rising lawyer, played by Ben Affleck, claims he doesn't have time to take care of things properly (he's late for a court appointment), and just writes a blank check. The middle class insurance worker (Samuel L Jackson (I still don't know what the "L" is for)) is also late for his own court appointment in family court where he was hoping to do som reconciliation with his estranged wife and kids. This starts a cycle of revenge, all of which was occasioned by the accident, but all of which is clearly perpetuated by each party being unwilling or unable to forgive the other. I suppose you could call it a study in why forgiveness is so difficult.

The third was City of God, which for some reason I expected to be a vaguely religious film (probably the title). For those who haven't seen it, this is one of the most colorful, personal, authentic well directed gangster movies ever made. The center of the film is a war between two drug gangs in a favala, or slum, in Rio de Janeiro. What marks it as unusual, is that as each character appears, a flashback tells his story. There are perhaps a dozen of these, and it makes for a remarkably human look at how gang violence develops and is perpetuated.

All three of these were top notch, though the first one is not for folks who are short on patience.

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