26.2.10

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Hey film buffs! What's it called when you have those long still takes where the camera doesn't move? The Hidden method of dispassionate, objective observation? Lots of that in this here film. Isn't it clever! And boy are some of the frames of decaying urban wasteland just... beautiful.

I do like my eastern European arthouse films about immigration. OK, no I don't, but I did like this one. Because it wasn't just about immigration. It was about everything. The closest comparison that springs to mind is Magnolia, except this wasn't set in LA. Everything is much grimier, much more desperate. It's all sex for money and macho posturing and ignorant parents and brutal bosses.

But it's not just about liberal guilt-tripping. Like Magnolia, this film retains a sense of the ridiculous -- our crazy foibles, suspicions, whimsies, desires. Many of its darkest scenes are almost absurd in their darkness. The pathetic dweeb shouting at the web-cam pornstar. The jealous nurse manically assaulting the immigrant cleaner. There is a lightness amid the darkness. A hope and a delight that can be a part of even the bleakest human experience.

Also, you know, religion and loss of faith. Some of the scenes in the old people's home are... poetic is the word to use. The bedridden, emaciated patients look like dreaming prophets of a kingdom that can't come soon enough. It's superbly fitting that the film ends with them talking mindlessly in the darkness. Like I said: it's about everything.

Sure beats the hell out of Solomon Kane, I can tell you...

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