Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Recent European Films

The films I saw at the HFA series of New European film were:

Les Amants Reguliers (Regular Lovers), directed by Philippe Garrel. This film, shot it somewhat grainy black and white, returns to the events of May 68 as experienced by a young poet (played by the director's son). The first half of the film is of the riots themselves, while the second part is largely about their aftermath. It is the second half that some critics have seen as connecting with Jean Eustache's "the Mother and the Whore". Garrel's film certainly deals with a lot of the same issues as Eustache's film, namely: now that the battle is over, has the revolution failed? Can we rescuscitate the jubiliant spirit before the revolution (note: also a title of a Bernardo Bertolucci film, which is explicitly referenced in Les Amants Reguliers.)? What will become of us in the aftermath of a true revolutionary act? and so on... Life never returns to normal for those who participate in the riots. The poet has an affair with a female sculptor, who later leaves him to pursue her career. Finally, the poet is unable to adjust and takes the only possible course left to him.

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Directed by Cristi Puiu. This is a new Romanian film about the last hours of an alcoholic engineer who phones an ambulance complaining of head and stomach trouble. This begins the saga of his experience from hospital to hospital attempting to get aid. The only person who advocates his position, as he drifts further and further out of consciousness is a paramedic, who pleads with doctors and technicians to help him. The whole film is shot in color at night with a handheld camera, it allows the audience to become intimately involved with the whole process as he is transported to four hospitals in one night before finally coming to his resting place. What is amazing about this film is how accurately it critiques the modern medical establishment. Under the circumstances presented in the film, it could have taken place in any industrialized city centre. It is a very grim journey that should be seen by as many people as possible in order to acquaint them with the daily struggles of medical institutions.

No comments: