2001: 5 movies

posted 2018 November 30
added Das Rad on 2019 December 15

Le peuple migrateur
Directed and produced by Jacques Perrin
Co-directed by Jacques Cluzaud and Michel Debats
Written by Valentine Marvel, Jacques Perrin,
and Stéphane Durand
Cinematography by Olli Barbé, Michel Benjamin,
Sylvie Carcedo, Laurent Charbonnier,
Luc Drion, Laurent Fleutot,
Philippe Garguil, Dominique Gentil,
Bernard Lutic, Thierry Machado,
Stéphane Martin, Fabrice Moindrot,
Ernst Sasse, Michel Terrasse,
and Thierry Thomas
Music by Bruno Coulais
Edited by Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte
Production Design by Régis Nicolino
Narrated by Jacques Perrin

   Some may think that an hour and thirty minutes of footage of birds flying can not sustain their interest, but that's part of the reason this movie makes it on this list. It's not a formal documentary, but more like a symphony of dozens of bird species on their different migration paths. We get close-up looks at their features as they walk around, eat, mate, swim, interact with each other and other species, as well as, of course, fly. Most of it flows in a light and fun spirit. Then it gets majestic, and then, after not seeing people as the protagonists for such a long time, it gets philosophical and spiritual. The editing is a huge part of that. The editing is also responsible for keeping the movie engaging, for instance in the way scenes begin, the viewer has to flap a little to figure out what you're looking at, and from what angle, until the subject becomes clear. In a way, this creates a feeling of flying.
   The cinematography is gorgeously clear, with masterpiece shots and sequences. Tranquil and yet thrilling. It's a tremendous achievement that provides a supremely out-of-body experience, leaving the viewer yearn to watch the making-of. The music is at its worst, unobtrusive, and at its best, an fine complement to the various moods including the spiritual.
   The title translates from the French to "The migrant people", which states up-front that the movie's aim is to blur the lines between humans and birds, their ways and ours, to examine our differences, and possibly to re-think some of our ways and tendencies, like borders, nationalism, and racism.

Written and directed by Majid Majidi
Produced by Majid Majidi and Fouad Nahas
Music by Ahmad Pezhman
Cinematography by Mohammad Davudi
Edited by Hassan Hassandoost
Set decor by Behzad Kazzazi
Costumes by Behzad Kazzazi and Malek Jahan Khazai
Makeup  by Jahanjou Jafari, Mohsen Mossavi,
and Affarine Sadeghi
Starring Hossein Abedini, Zahra Bahrami,
and Mohammad Amir Naji

   A small quiet illegal refugee gets your job, and now your life sucks. That's the opening note of this movie. And from there it leads to a gushing exploration of sexuality, love, selflessness, and the definition of a good living. The cinematography is at times harsh and barren, and other times sprouting honestly with sparse life and color. There are moments, especially towards the end when a haunting spirituality overwhelms the viewer. The tremendous and perfectly timed close-ups aid in this.
   The fact that the titular actor is completely silent for the whole movie is a rough gamble, but makes for a gripping and long-lasting effect. Not only is it a touching love story with humanist themes, but it's also a clever working around the censorship laws governing movie-making in Iran, which regulate relationships between men and women, and the female body.
   The title is the name of the lead female character and translates from the Farsi to "Rain". 

In the Bedroom
Directed by Todd Field
Written by Robert Festinger and Todd Field
Produced by Todd Field, Ross Katz,
and Graham Leader
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography by Antonio Calvache
Edited by Frank Reynolds
Art direction by Shannon Hart
Set decor by Josh Outerbridge
Costumes by Melissa Economy
Wardrobe by Shana Schoepke
Makeup by Terri Harper
Hair styles by Sally J. Harper
Starring Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek,
Marisa Tomei, Nick Stahl,
and William Mapother

   Now, this is top-level dramatic cinema. People often say that things are relatively easy because they aren't brain surgery. But I'd say this movie is just as hard as brain surgery, if not more so. Shifting tone, story-line, shifting protagonist, but the sum is weighty and palpable. The American dream, sweetly and comfortably set in a pretty fishing town in Maine, turns into a deafeningly quiet backdrop for grief and a helpless thirst for justice. The unhurried pace of direction and editing is mostly responsible for the success of the piece. You feel the days. You feel the minutes.
   The chilly cinematography and monstrously good acting paints quietude, letting the audience feel the scream for ourselves. The main three themes are the loss of a loved one, the violence that can be awakened in people, that exists under the surface of our pleasant exteriors, and the roles of violence and assertiveness in sexual relationships. In the end, the tone is one of victory. The lion has roared, proven itself once again. The wolf has been scared off. The pride is scarred but has regained its peace.

Das Rad
Writing, direction, cinematography, and editing
by Chris Stenner, Arvid Uibel,
and Heidi Wittlinger
Produced by Bastian Clevé, Georg Gruber,
and Katrin Wans
Music by Roland Hackl
Foley art by Felix Kratzer
Sound design and mixing by Bernd Müller

   Astounding! A vision of life in slow motion since life on earth began. Smart, funny, scary, and sad. With an after-taste of awesome! Very imaginative, fully thought through, with nice attention to detail. It is required material for movie editing study.
   The title translates from the German to "The Wheel".

Waking Life
Written and directed by Richard Linklater
Produced by Tommy Pallotta, Jonah Smith,
Anne Walker-McBay, and Palmer West
Music by Glover Gill
Cinematography by Richard Linklater and Tommy Pallotta
Editing by Sandra Adair
Art direction by Bob Sabiston
Animated by Jason Archer, Paul Beck,
John Bruch, Jean Caffeine,
Zoe Charlton, Randy Cole,
Jennifer Deutrom, Kate Dollenmayer,
Rahab El Ewely, Pat Falconer,
Dan Gillotte, Nathan Jensen,
Matthew Langland, Mike Layne,
Travis Lindquist, Chris Minley,
Katy O'Connor, John Paul,
Shannon Pearson, Eric Power,
Bob Sabiston, Holly Sabiston,
Susan Sabiston, Katie Salen,
Divya Srinivasan, Patrick Thornton,
Penny Van Horn, Mary Varn,
Rosie Weaver, Wiley Wiggins,
and Constance Wood
Starring Wiley Wiggins, Charles Gunning,
Alex Jones, and Richard Linklater

   A meditation on life and death, dreams and meaning, and the right way to live. At first, the only reference point to the unique and captivating style is the video for A-Ha's "Take on Me". But as the journey unravels, we start to see the movie in a class with Lynch, Jodorowsky, Godard, and Bergman. It's a philosophical quest, told in a blend of poignant cinematography, surrealist painting, and comic-book art. What remains is a vibrant rallying cry for creativity, individuality, and a rebuke to the prevalent mass-consumer lifestyle.

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