So, carrying on my idea of blogging about all the books and films I've watched this year...
I watched two films on DVD last night (warning my reviews will include spoilers so ignore this post if you want to watch either of the films).
The first was...
Starring: Ryan Gosling
About: About a teacher addicted to crack and the friendship he has with one of his pupils. Set in New York
What happens: Lots of lingering shots of a fairly miserable-looking man wandering round his apartment, teaching and smoking crack (not while he's teaching). Lots of shots of a young girl playing basketball, getting money from her brother's best friend (her brother is in prison and is keeping schtum about his friend's involvement in the crime). Not a lot of dialogue. Then, slowly, a relationship builds up between the girl and her teacher (he also coaches basketball) that takes a new turn when she discovers him smoking crack in the toilets after school after he ran into an ex-girlfriend (who is no longer on drugs) after a match. Then...um...shots of the different school kids talking about human rights...altercations between the teacher and the brother's friend...the teacher has sex with another teacher and a weird scene where the teachers family has a drug orgy. And...um...then I lost interest and I can't remember what happened at the end!
Verdict: This film was filmed in a documentary style and, in my opinion was all about the 'art' rather than the story. There were soooo many lingering shots with no dialogue it drove me crazy. What was weird was that Ryan Gosling was very good, as was the actress that played the young girl, but there just wasn't enough human interaction to hold my attention. It reminded me of books I've read with loads and loads of atmospheric description (often metaphorical) and no real scenes between the main characters.
The second film was..
La Vie en Rose
Starring: Marion Cottilard, Gerard Depardieu
About: The life of French singer Edith Piaf.
What happens: The film starts by showing Edith Piaf collapsing on stage then goes back to show her childhood. She was taken from her alcoholic mother by her father and deposited at a brothel where she lived for an indeterminate amount of time before her father returned to collect her and take her to the circus (where he performed as a contortionist). After her father is kicked out of the circus they are forced to perform on the street for money. At first it's just her father's act but when the crowd demands to know what she does Edith starts to sing. It doesn't take long until she's discovered by Gerard Depardieu's character. What follows is a hell of a lot of heartache including the death of her mentor and, later, her married lover. The film shows Piaf's raucous personality, her relationship with alcohol and, ultimately, her determination to sing, no matter what. The closing scene of her singing "Je ne regrette rien" was incredible.
Verdict: I'd always imagined that Edith Piaf was an elegant middle-class woman and the truth is very, very different. Hers was a fascinating and difficult existence and although I never entirely warmed to her as a character (I'm not sure why) I couldn't tear my eyes from the screen. The structure of the film was a little annoying (it continually jumps back and forward in time) but that was a minor annoyance. So desperate was I to watch the end of this film that I stayed up way past my bedtime and only went to sleep when the film ended at 3.45am!