Over the weekend, I watched two films, Elizabethtown and Nobody Knows
Hell, why not, let's start with Elizabethtown. From friends reviews and the press, I thought I was gonna be sitting down to one of the worst movies I've ever seen. I was willing to do so anyway as a show of support for Kirsten Dunst. Here's the thing, though...the film is not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Sure, Orlando Bloom might be the worst actor in a generation full of bad actors. That's fine. He's terrible in this. But overall the story is so over the top optimistic, and full of so many other likeable characters that I was able to get past that. It almost seems like the same formula as Garden State. Would be hero comes home (well, Bloom back to his father's home) more than slighly jaded and at the end of the rope. Would be hero meets quirky girl who shows him the goodness in life. Bizzare cast of supporting friends and family, all saying lines that are somewhat unbelievable, at least if you are going for realism or authenticity. Then put together a monster soundtrack. Garden State is the better film sure. But I can't for the life of me figure out the outright hatred given to Elizabethtown. Sure it's self concious, and tries to bite of more than it can chew at the same time, and makes grandiose statements that sorta seem silly. But, that's what romantic comedies are supposed to do. So, not great, but enjoyable enough, and certainly not as terrible as advertised.
On the other end of the spectrum, Nobody Knows, that was just fantastic. Based on a true story, a mother leaves her four children in an apartment in Japan for months at a time, and they realize she isn't coming back. They need to find a way to survive on their own. The camera work in this film was great, the shots of the children in the apartment were nearly always closeups, so you got the feeling that the apartment was no bigger than an office cubicle. This only added to the desperateness of the situation. Somehow, even though the situation was so dire, it didn't entirely turn into tragedy. I thought back to Truffaut's Small Change which I posted about here, after seeing the film. I wondered to myself why it is that you have to watch foreign films to see children get treatment as actual intelligent, complex, and capable beings. I wondered why 400 Blows, Small Change, and Nobody Knows are some of the worlds contributions to cinema and how America presents Home Alone as their contribution in film to viewing to the world of children. Regardless, the reason Nobody Knows is able to rise over a spiteful tradgedy of a story are the moments that you get to see the children as children, moments on the playground, or walking through the city together towards the end. It's moments like those that, at least to me, show the true character both in their joy and in their resolve, of children. It really is a wonderful movie, if a bit too long.