Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dancing with Myself

I finally watched Waltz with Bashir. In my typical style, I have a lot to say but I just wanted to jot down a couple of things first then maybe come back to it.

First off, the film was far more complicated than I thought it would be. Part of me thought it would be a run of the mill war sucks blah blah but it wasn't. One of the parts I thought was really effective was when the protagonist, Ari, visits a friend in Holland (I think) and finds that the guy is living in the proverbial lap of luxury (materially at least), having acquired some 10 acres of land by merely selling falafel from a street kiosk. In this and many other ways, the film comments on the popular exoticization of Middle- Eastern culture, without taking the predictable self-pitying perspective (see Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears - I liked the book, but I'm just saying).

The work does a lot of things. I've heard it be compared to Apocalypse Now, and I think this is a fair comparison. A natural heir to all the films about the traumatic experience of war - I would throw in Battle of Algiers in there too - Folman's piece is not only a timeless meditation on human nature, but a timely one as well, what with the turmoil the Middle East is currently undergoing.

It was a surprise then, and a disappointing one at that, that the film is only enjoying patronage at the nation's indie film theaters and even then, is presumably being seen by small audiences - when I saw it at the Midtown Landmark Theatre, the only place showing the movie in all of Atlanta, I was one of only two people in attendance.

And how much did Marley & Me make again?

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