A Good Yarn

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Back in the Swing of Things

Now that the crunch to read my book club book is over, I'm back to the M-SPIFF. I saw a couple of good ones last night.

La Petite Jerusalem is a French film about two sisters who are Tunisian Jews living in the Little Jerusalem neighborhood of Paris. The older sister is married, with children, but is forced to face her sexuality and her faith. The younger sister is studying philosophy and working as a custodian. She is trying to reject all urges and devote herself strictly to philosophy. Until she meets another custodian - a journalist from Algeria. The film has very sparse dialogue. The acting is wonderful, however, including the actress playing the mother of the sisters. There are a number of religious ceremonies presented in the film, so for me, it was a fascinating look into the lives of a completely different culture. There's a lot of nudity and sexuality, if that would be of concern to you.

The other film I saw was "An Enemy of the People." It's a film updating the Ibsen play, directed by the director of the original version of the movie "Insomnia". I really loved this film. It was pretty bleak and depressing, however. I wasn't familiar with the Ibsen play, but from what I've read describing the play, this film is a pretty faithful adaptation. It's about a Norwegian nutritionist who becomes well-known for his tv show exposing big business and health - they show an episode of the show where he goes after the biggest Norwegian milk producer and the ill-effects of drinking too much milk. He's sort of a Michael Moore-type. After the tv network tries to limit his corporate attacks, he quits television and decides to go into business with his brother, bottling and selling water from the springs in their small hometown. He believes these are the most healthful waters and wants to prove their health benefits to the whole country. His wife has some misgivings about returning to the old hometown because her father is a bit of an alcoholic and was involved in some sort of scandal back in the day, so she feels she'll be unwelcome. Nevertheless they move to the small town, start bottling the water, getting investments from everyone in town and then the doctor discovers there are unsafe levels of pesticide in the water. Needless to say, everyone who has invested their life savings and hopes for the future of their town in this water plant doesn't want to hear about pesticides. The doctor is a true believer, however, and tries to warn the world, paying no mind of the cost to himself or his family or of any other possible solutions to making the water safe. It's really a fascinating story and paced just perfectly. I loved the actors - the doctor starts out as this loving husband, charismatic leader, enthusiastic dreamer and by the end he's just a complete lunatic who is out of control. His wife and son also have some very nice transformations. The film is absolutely gorgeous. I can't tell you how much I want to go to Norway now - it's just breathtaking.