Why movies about bad people are good: Berlinale Sunday

14Feb11

Let’s start with the highlight: Bu-dang-geo-rae (The Unjust), a movie about bad people and the corrupted system. No one is good, even less those who work on the good side, the Police, the State Prosecution. The rivalry between the police investigator Choi and the State Prosecutor Joo pushes the movie forward constantly and drives each of the characters to the limits of what they are willing to do to save themselves. But they only get tangled up worse.

And I loved it. No character to identify with, no scene that makes you feel like it will turn out well. I fuck you, you fuck me. The testosteron, the anger, the power of images raises hopes for more to come.

As director Ryoo Seung-wan, very cool in his leather fur-collared coat, said after the screening: Whatever you feel about the movie is right. Well, I think everyone should watch it.

Hi-So

A film about being lost, lost in your past and your future, between cultures, between farang and Thai. Main character Ananda returns to Thailand after studying in the US to act in a movie. While feeling a bit lost at times during the movie myself, too many loose ends in the story, director Aditya Assarat manages to catch the feeling of being disconnected from your environment quite well, that sometimes there are no words, or explanations. Where are you at home? Why do relationships end? In Hi-So, Ananda’s relationship to his American girlfriend Zoe ends (or better, phases out) after she visits him on a set for a Thai movie. Probably, she tried to understand more of Thailand than Ananda himself who just continues being the cool guy, giving interviews, having a romance, without commitments. The worst moment is probably the fact that the movie Ananda is doing seems to be completely boring. The best moment is when Zoe visits the beach with one of the hotel staff and he tells her about his trip to the US. But he only made it to the airport of Los Angeles, as he would not get a visa, and he shows her a key fob that he brought back as a souvenir from his trip.

Qualunquemente (Whatsoeverly)

What can I say. It’s trash. If you like trash, you might like this satire of the electoral race for mayor in a small village in Calabria between a decent and law-obiding candidate (Transparency International’s choice), and a corrupting, tax evading playboy (the Mafia’s choice).

It’s fun for the first half hour, but then it gets annoying. Of course, we all wonder how Italian President Berlusconi keeps himself in power despite all his affairs and cockiness. There are numerous references to his scandals in the movie, one for example asking during his campaign speech: “Anyone doubted my sexual virility?”.  But you might just read this good article in the German weekly Die Zeit by Roberto Saviano: Warum lieben viele Italiener Berlusconi?. So of course, much of what people say about taxes, construction permits and women may have a lot of truth to it. But more than a satire it is a trashball comedy, everything that happens is exaggerated, over the top.

If you want an amazing movie about a mayor and how power corrupts you, watch the Mexican film La Ley de Herodes by director Luis Estrada instead.

Missing Berlinale days already. During the week, it’s only Berlinale nights. More tomorrow about Russian movie Mishen, and the Japanese film Byakuyakou (Into the White Night).

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