Friday, September 25, 2009

Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Last night I watched Dante 01, directed by Marc Caro (half of the team that made Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children) and starring that French dude from the Matrix sequels. I don't remember all that much about the movie, as I was pretty drunk when I was watching it, but I'll try to do my best anyway. Dante 01 is a space station at the end of the universe where a small group of scientists performs experiments on the criminally insane, and they all speak French. As the the film begins the station's members get two new additions, a scientist and a prisoner/patient. The scientist is Asian-looking and she has pretty nice boobs, which we get to see right away (gotta love that new nude cryosleep technology). The new crazy guy is Lambert Wilson, and he doesn't talk much and can cure people of their illnesses by eating these big tentacly parasites he finds in their bodies using his X-Ray vision. That's about it, as far as I could tell. People get hurt, people get cured, and there's lots of running around the station, but the story is pretty much non-existent. All the prisoners have religious-type names like Lazare and Moloch and Buddha, and I guess it's supposed to mean something. There's plenty of religious undertones and symbolism in the movie, but it's safe to say that most of them went right over my head. It sure is pretty movie though. The place where the scientists live is always purple, while the prisoners live in yellow-green surroundings. Very color coordinated. I think there's a 2001: A Space Odyssey ripoff near the ending, but by then I didn't really pay much attention. It's the kind of movie that you can tell that it's a really good movie, that it looks really cool and that the directing is excellent, but it's just not interesting at all, not one bit. I've had a similar experience with Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children, which were directed by Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. They are both very impressive and original works of cinema, but I didn't find myself connecting with them in any way, emotionally or otherwise. I don't know. Maybe it's the language. I find it very hard to connect with movies in languages I don't understand. I think there's something very wrong about watching a movie with translation subtitles, because you can never get the full picture from reading these little lines of text at the bottom of your screen. Because language can't be disconnected from culture, and a literal translation that is cut down and compressed tightly enough so that it would fit into your screen and give you enough time to read it before the next line of dialog comes up just can't deliver the full meaning of any scene. Whenever I watch a movie in a language that I don't understand I always get this feeling that yes, I know what these people here on the screen are doing, and I have a general idea of what they're saying to each other, but I have no idea what's going on, not really. I know what they're saying, but I can't really understand what they mean, not in the way that I do when I hear people speaking English or Hebrew. I don't know. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just dumb. Or maybe I shouldn't watch foreign movies late at night when I'm drunk. And yes, when Israelis talk about 'foreign movies' they usually mean movies that aren't in either Hebrew or English.

On the other hand, before Dante 01 I watched a movie called Wieners. Now there's an adequate movie for drunken viewing! They really should have more movies like that on TV on booze nights.

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