Sunday, 16 October 2011

Flight Films: Alamanya, Bad Teacher, Julia's Eyes, Nothing to Declare, Pigeons on the Roof, Something Borrowed, The Whistleblower, Wrecked

I watched eight films on my flights to Europe and back, though I will be the first to tell you that watching a film on a tiny little screen with horrible sound (partly because of the background noise) is not really watching a film at all. Reliable evaluation is therefore a challenge at best. Still, I was able to watch some foreign films I may otherwise have missed and it will come as no surprise to hear that in general the foreign films were vastly superior to the North American ones. Unfortunately, on my return flight there were few foreign films to chose from.

I will review these films from worst to best, so most of the English-language films will come first:

Bad Teacher (American, 2011)

Bad film. I kept watching in the hope that it would get better but for me Bad Teacher had no redeeming qualities whatsoever and was a complete waste of my time. *+

Something Borrowed (American, 2011)

This film about a woman in love with her best friend’s fiance (who also happens to be in love with her) starts off with promise but fizzles out after twenty minutes or so and becomes nothing more than an ordinary and silly chick flick (not to say that all chick flicks are ordinary and silly but, well, you know what I mean). I did enjoy watching Ginnifer Goodwin in the lead role. **+

Wrecked (Canadian, 2010)

A one-man film starring Adrien Brody as a man who wakes up in a car-wreck in a forest ravine with no memory of who he is or how he got there. It’s an interesting premise and the flashbacks were intriguingly done, but ultimately this is a snorer with only a few compelling scenes. **+

Julia’s Eyes (Spanish, 2010)

A psychological thriller about a blind woman and the man who keeps her that way. This film has lots of style and has its moments, but it’s derivative, contrived and predictable, so only of interest to those who like this kind of film (sometimes I do, but not precisely this kind). **+

Nothing to Declare (Belgian - French, 2010)

A comedy-drama about racism and the beginning of open border-crossings in Europe. There are too many scenes that don’t work, and the anti-racism message is much too superficial, but there are some hilarious and touching scenes and the actors are a joy to watch. ***

Pigeons on the Roof (German, 2011)

In German, this film is literally titled “The Theory of the Relativity of Love” and it’s a whacky comedy about four couples in a big German city. The acting, especially by the two lead actors, is extraordinary. You have to watch it to see why. This is one of the funniest films I have watched in a long time. ***+

The Whistleblower (American, 2010)

Rachel Weisz stars as a Nebraska police officer who is talked into becoming a peacekeeper in Bosnia after the war. The Whistleblower is not a brilliantly-made film but it’s based on actual events and it deals with vital issues like sex trafficking, UN peacekeeping and, most importantly, the way American business contracts are handed out after wars and disasters (see Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine). In this case, the prime culprit is an American security firm that takes part (with impunity) in the sex trafficking of young woman in Bosnia. This is an horrific film that somehow remains understated while becoming more gripping and frightening with each minute. ***+

Alamanya - Welcome to Germany (German, 2011)

A delightful humanizing comedy-drama about the experience of Turkish immigrants in Germany. This film about descendants of the earliest post-war Turkish immigrants who were invited to help restore Germany in 1950‘s (it includes the experience of those first immigrants) uses humour to question the status of those descendants within Germany today (surely they are now accepted as full members of the German community, you say - yeah, right). This beautifully-made film is the kind of film that has the potential to change the hearts of viewers and make the world a better place. As I’ve said before, we can never have too many films like that. ***+

Exactly half of the films I watched get a mug up - the rest are better avoided altogether.

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