Thursday 27 November 2008

Two Very Different films: Easy Virtue and Waltz With Bashir

It's taken me nearly a whole week to review these two films... whoops!

Easy Virtue

Adapted from the Noel Coward play of the same name, I expected an enjoyable comedy, and I wasn't too disappointed. The Whittaker family live in a large English country house of the 1920's. The son (Barnes) returns from his travels in the US with Larita, a blonde American racing-driver bombshell (Biel) and announces to his family that she's his new wife. The mother (Scott-Thomas) and two sisters are shocked at this American invasion, with Larita's shiny clothes, modern ideas and cigarette smoke, but the father (Firth) seems amused by this breath of American fresh air.

It's an entertaining story and I enjoyed the comedy moments but it seemed to try too hard to shoehorn a side-story about the father's involvement in the first world war and this just didn't work. Who wants to watch something heavy on a Friday night? I need a laugh to start off the weekend!

It would be interesting to see a performance of the play, and Hitchcock's silent 1928 version to see how the story has been interpreted by different people. It's worth a watch, but don't get too excited, it's just a bit of fun.

Official site:

Waltz With Bashir

Although I was at school in the early 80's when the Lebanon war was going on and I remember the regular news reports of the fighting and footage of the devastated city of Beirut on t.v., this arresting animated film showed me how little I actually know about it.

We find Ari in the present day, listening to an old friend from the Israeli army they served in together, discussing what they remembered about the war they both fought in. Ari is distressed to find that he cannot remember the same details which his friend does, so he goes on a journey to find out what his other comrades remembered, to examine his own memories and feelings about the war.

It's a surreal and disturbing journey and the stark, comic-book graphic style of the animation is well suited to the grim subject-matter. It works so well as an animation; the strange and horrific images are simplified and stylized to direct our attention. This is an engaging film and although it was a view from an Israeli perspective, this didn't obscure the power of the story it told.

Official site:

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