I’ve just spent the last nine hours watching 3 near perfect films, back to back; the cinephile in me couldn’t have asked for more.
Gegen die Wand (Head-On): Faith Akin (2004)
One of the best foreign films I’ve watched so far this year; a tale of self destruction, love and rage. Faith Akin’s brilliant Turkish/German venture is as brutal and cynical as they come. The story is of a suicidal young Turkish woman who marries a 40 something widower to escape from the clutches of her overbearing parents and slowly finds out that even freedom comes at a painful price. Great performances and a mind blowing soundtrack make this one hell of a gritty experience.
Eastern Promises: David Cronenberg (2007)
Disturbing, violent but oddly uplifting. His earlier work, A History of Violence was a film that I’ve often debated with people about. Cronenberg’s characters and their moral ambiguities are often accused of being artificial but I cannot disagree more. Like David Lynch, Cronenberg allows the viewer to piece the fragments of the story and characters themselves. Eastern Promises, while being less subtle still packs a much more powerful punch than AHoV in my opinion whilst still managing to entertain, in a sick twisted way of course.
Once: John Carney (2006)
This little Irish gem (filmed for less than 150K $) is the kind of film that reaffirms one’s faith in humanity and it’s ability to love. It’s impossible to remain unaffected by a film such as this. The characters are people you could come across in real life but what makes this more than an average love story is that music takes precedence over conversation. Whenever a film gets labeled as a love story, it’s natural to not expect much, but this story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant is unsentimental yet profoundly moving and perfectly executed.