So naturally, once opportunity knocked with an offer to "improve my cultural horizons", I ended up taking it: Winners of the Palme d'Or (foldly called the "pah! deo!" by those of us who can't pronounce it), screened in a fashion to enlighten uncultured pond scum while still providing wholesome entertainment to the rest of the world.
Naturally, some reputations suffered.
Here's a list, and the recommendations:
- Shadow Warrior(Kagemusha)
A secret weapon created to avenge great loss of life, this movie succeeds in what it was created to do. The only doubt remaining is what, exactly, that was. It certainly wasn't to describe how Ieyasu Tokugawa became Shogun after Roman-descended missionaries sold him weaponry capable of converting three cavalry charges into dog meat. It wasn't a story of how one man reforms, discovers a purpose in life, and dies on losing that. This movie is watchable, in spite of possessing the trappings that a pahdeo winning movie seems to need.
Of course, the fact still remains: play Total War: Shogun, and you get a much more immersive experience of how to become Shogun. You miss the human interest stuff, though - which might be a bad thing. Or not. The historical details (as much as I know, which isn't much) are very nicely done in the movie, and if you like that sort of thing, and are willing to endure directorial dictatorship. Besides, Kurosawa had no Kensai. No Legendary Geishas, either.
Since this is supposed to be a movie that makes you think, don't be disappointed if all you can think is "Sank de Gott! Itt eis der Ower."
- Underground (Podzemlje)
Light relief after shogunnic wars consists of the Wehrmacht rolling into Yugoslavia, the resistance run by a pair of actors, Tito and the Balkan genocide. Watching this, I realised that there is a very simple-minded formula to make a movie that I am almost sure to enjoy:
- crooked heroes
- crooked villains (who are the villains rather than the heroes through no fault of their own: Maybe they were born under a swastika, maybe Broccoli decided that they needed a hole in the head). Even better, if the villain has no screen time, and just his(her? their?) deeds show.
- a plot that gets so complicated that keeping it in some sort of order requires a legion of auditors. It needn't make sense, thought that separates the truly great movies from the passing fancies. The Wacky Bros greivously disappoint on this score.
- Eyecandy. It need not be the Bellucci, even the fires signalling the orc (or whatever) advance (or retreat) in LotR:RotK fits. Bellucci is just more likely to tilt the scale on the "right" side, though...
- Humour. It need not be black, though that is always a bonus.
- Only in strict moderation, "social messages". It helps if they're not obvious. Gobbels wanted.
And of course, watch out for the chimpanzee.
This is the best movie of the lot, even considering the rose
buttbud. Stolen news footage cleverly juxtaposed with Marko Markovich gives it a sense of immediacy about forty years too late, though the serbian shots make it worthwhile. Add in the wheelchair and the tolling church bell, to get one of the most powerful images of this movie (That the director promptly ruins with
his own version of heaven. If heaven is like the wedding of the Corleone daughter, we prefer hell.)
- A taste of cherry (Ta'm e guilass)
No, it doesn't mean a Tam in a glass - imbibing that particular concoction will leave you lucky if you get off with the bubonic plague.
Another of those sensitive movies, this time about a guy who wishes to commit suicide, and yet be buried properly in accordance with his religious beliefs, I presume. What other reason can anyone have to offer people money to bury him? At that - Tehran seems to be a well-behaved and proper city. Try that particular stunt in this hell-hole, and you're likely to get your
wishes answered rather more quickly than you ever wanted.
The ending doesn't tell us whether he dies or lives (I've spoilt the movie for you. Appy Polly Logies.) More seriously: it doesn't tell us why he decides to commit suicide. Now, since I'm an insensitive character, here's my take: Badii the bad is a professional goldfish racer, who races his fishies against those the Smart Set of Iran cultivate. Owing to a sudden shortage of fish at the local Dhaba, the cook breaks into B. the b's place, and steals his thoroughbred racer, which has forty-two generations of careful inbreeding behind it (Cleo, eat dirt. You had what? Seven?) Next thing you know, well, you have a depressed rich maniac running around the industrial wastelands searching for an accomplice to help him die. Technically, they're not accomplices, but his burial duty, for a special consideration.
B. the b's even gone to the extent of digging his grave in an out-of-the-way place, so all they have to do is cause a landslide - no infrequent occurence in mud hills - which takes care of the problem nicely. So he finds his victim (accomplice, I mean), a loudmouth, talkative stuffer whom he magically creates out of a stone shoveller, who is supposed to do his best to wake him up. Bad the baddy then goes, takes a sleeping draught and goes to lie down in his makeshift grave.
The movie would end there, but then Der Directornaut Kierostami got a sure-fire idea to get his movie the pahdeo. The (now sadly annihilated) Republican Guard invades, and puts B. the baddy into a dilution camp, where he plies his trade. Die End (or is it Der End? No matter.)
It seems that being a c.f. is a nice thing.
 There is a best way.
 and coincidentally induce severe spinal disorder in the long term. Not that it matters - the pursuit of liberty, freedom and culture is fraught with hardship to be endured.
 Sadly, he wasn't the best villain Bond had to deal with. Bond villains never die, they never say never.
 Taxidermist. Refer Sharpe T., "The Throwback".