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Showing posts from January, 2010

The White Ribbon

While it is usually Dutch provocateur Lars von Trier most quickly labeled a sadist amongst contemporary filmmakers, I’m not sure that he has anything on his more reserved Austrian colleague, Michael Haneke.

Although von Trier certainly has the more audacious style and public persona, both men work within their prescribed codes. With von Trier, apparently it’s still Dogma 95, which dictates, among other rules for him and is Dogma cadre, location shooting, use of natural light and hand-held cameras. Haneke, more the formalist, tends to work in long takes and eschews the use of soundtracks and scores. There came a certain point in Haneke’s current film, The White Ribbon, at which I began to feel as I had at similar moment in von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark: maybe these guys enjoy the suffering of their characters a little too much.

In The White Ribbon, we are told by the film’s narrator – the decent, youngish schoolteacher in the film, speaking with the remove of many decades, as his much…

Youth In Revolt

I’m reminded of the last year or two of my trick or treating career. This was at some point during my junior high years, let’s say seventh or eighth grade. I started getting variations on “my, aren’t you a BIG trick or treater?” The implication, of course, being that it was time to make way for smaller, younger and probably cuter kids. I saw the proverbial writing on the wall and started acquiring my candy the hard way. Do you hear that bell, Michael Cera? It tolls for thee.

Actually, I like Cera. I thought he was often hilarious and touching in Superbad and Juno, smart and sympathetic in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. But the window on his doe-eyed, sensitive youth franchise is closing, and Youth and Revolt might just have slammed it shut.

The problem, however, goes way beyond our meek friend, who acquits himself well enough in the double role (although the Francois Dillinger alter ego comes along late enough in the game and is inserted so sporadically as to reveal itself as not…