FOUR MORE EUROPEAN GEMS
Ah, memory, thank you for your cooperation this morning! From the haze
of all the movies we've ever seen AND everything I've ever, thought,
said, and done, four more very fine films that we've seen recently and
were lost in the fog yesterday, have now presented themselves:
We recently saw a lovely Swedish movie called "Under the Sun".
I got it by mistake at Blockbuster's, thinking it was "Under the Tuscan Sun"
(which Barbara and I later saw and both had some problems with).
"Under The Sun" is about Olaf, a Scandinavian bachelor farmer, an
earthy, illiterate man attractive for his simply virtues, who gets tired
of living alone and seeks a live-in housekeeper via a newspaper ad. He
has a young friend who has lived in America, has a convertible, and is a
picture of '50s or early '60s "hip".
The movie rings true, thoroughly delightful, and emotionally satisfying,
as we follow the farmer's awkward, yet sincere efforts to reach out for
the things most people need.
"The Man Without a Past" is another Scandinavian offering, this
one from Finland. How many of you have ever visited Helsinki, visually, for 2
hours? It's about another brass tacks, middle-aged man reaching out for
companionship. In this case, the fellow is suffering from total amnesia
due to an almost fatal beating by a gang of skinheads.
Aki Kaurismaki, the director, has a strong reputation that critics say
would be even stronger were he not working from a small country far from
major cinematic centers. In "The Man Without a Past", he's created a
piece of quirky originality that is also an unusual study of a community
of down-and-out people who live illegally in freight containers near
"The Son's Room" dramatizes the "designer" lives of an Italian
psychiatrist and his family when those lives are suddenly upset by the
death of one member. It's a powerful study of grief and the effect of a
tragedy on a previously harmonious family. Rather than leave the viewer
at the height of tension, the director, Nanni Maretti, compassionately
follows out the situation to the point of some healing.
"Solas" is a fine Spanish movie about a self-destructive young
woman whose aged mother from the village stays with her while her
estranged father is convalescing in a hospital from a severe illness. The
girl, embittered by memories of her upbringing and by a subsequent
difficult life, continually rejects her mother's human overtures of even the
simplest kind. At times this protagonist's pain is so great as to be
almost unwatchable. But the milk of maternal caring brings change in an
unexpected way. The movie's ending left our hearts soaring.