Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Double Feature Day with Sara Varon

One of my favorite things in life is a movie day with Sara Varon. When I was living in DC, we had movie days as much as possible when I went to New York. Or Sara would take the bus down for 24 hours and we would fit as many movies into a day as we possibly could. We timed them just right and often saw things we would not see otherwise, just to fit them into our intricate schedule. So when I came to New York this time I was really looking forward to the Wednesday we set aside for one of our movie days. We packed an extensive lunch and charted out the films we most wanted to see.

We started with Hurt Locker at Quad Cinemas, thinking everyone else had already seen it and we'd have the place to ourselves, but that's what dozens of senior citizens were thinking too. I expected great things from this one, because that's all I'd heard about it. And it was indeed impressive, a thinking, empathic, layered, excellent war movie. I was especially impressed having just seen Black Hawk Down, another film lauded as "best war movie," and being gravely disappointed. The focus on interpersonal and intercultural relationships held my interest here, and director Kathryn Bigelow's skill with suspense is extraordinary. (I won't even get into the many discussions about Bigelow as a female filmmaker and the historical significance of this film, or crap like this...)

But we had to hurry on and we couldn't dwell for long in Bigelow's Iraq. Rather, like Sgt. James returning to a Texas supermarket, we made a surreal cultural jump. Ours was to pre-WWI Germany at Film Forum where Michael Haneke's White Ribbon was playing. Haneke is one of my favorite directors, and I was curious to see how this black and white period film would fit into his ouevre. It was reminiscent of The Castle, Haneke's 1997 Kafka adaptation, both in style and in setting. Being rather obsessive and anal retentive myself, I must admit that I appreciate Germanic perfectionism. And it is a veritable treat to watch a Haneke film and know that everything will be absolutely perfect (although I'm pretty sure Haneke would not appreciate the association, particularly considering the implications of this film...). White Ribbon is a horror film, a psychologically probing film, a culturally revealing film- suffice it to say, it is a great film.

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