lundi 16 avril 2012

Movies old and new (ish)

We watched Woody Allen's Sleeper this weekend, which I hadn't seen since it was released in 1973. I still can't get over the fact that 1973 was almost 40 years ago. I was a year away from high school graduation. Yikes! Sleeper is one of my favorite Woody Allen films, in part because it is a perfect combination of visual slapstick and Alleneque one-liners. The visual slapstick is part Benny Hill, part Charlie Chaplin, yet somehow different from both of those geniuses. Allen's vision of the future seems to focus mainly on the absolute triumph of bureaucratic incompetence and human greed. He places the action 200 years into the future, but I guess that's because he did not anticipate the acceleration of time. Loved: the old volkswagen, the old NY Times headline from 1991 (Pope's wife gives birth to twins), Diane Keaton getting brainwashed and turning into a sort of "Tanya" figure in a nod to the kidnapping and subsequent "brainwashing" of heiress Patty Hearst, the giant banana peel... in many ways, this movie is about the very premises of comedy. Earlier in the week, I went to see Le gamin au vélo at SIFF. It is a wonderful film, deserving of all the accolades it has gotten. One quibble: I don't think the English translation of the title is quite right. It isn't The Kid with a Bike or Kid with a Bike, it is The Kid with the Bike. The identity of the bike and its symbolic value for the kid are critical to the film and captured in the French title. The kid's dad sells his bike at the same time he abandons the kid. During the first part of the film, the kid is desperately seeking HIS bike because it links him to HIS dad. And he simply cannot believe his father has sold his bike, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Even when he is confronted with incontrovertible proof, you can see him pushing it away. The filmmakers, les frères Dardenne, are known for using mostly unknown actors. This time, they took a chance on a name - the Belgian acress Cécile de France. She is magnificent in this film, in the role of a hairdresser who takes the kid in.