Saturday, May 21, 2011
"Winter in Wartime" and "In a Better World"
Why do all the good movies come out at once?
It seems like “Best Foreign Film nominee month” at the Loft. There were so many good films that I couldn't get to them all. After being put off by a somewhat depressing trailer, I finally saw the Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, the Danish entry, “In a Better World.” In the trailer it appears to be the kind of depressing movie that I “should” watch because it's good for me. But I went away with that jubilant feeling I get after seeing fine filmmaking.(I got similar feeling of elation after seeing 2008's under-marketed, under-distributed, "Transsiberian" – a decidedly dark thriller.) Kudos to director Susanne Bier for bringing this universal theme of bullying to our attention. Unfortunately, “In a Better World” is no longer playing at the Loft. Meanwhile, Holland's Best Foreign Film nominee, “Winter in Wartime,” had a stunning trailer with thrilling action shots that drew me into the theater a week ago. Of course, it's still playing.
Since my readers seem to be catching these films on DVD anyway, I'll do reviews of both. But if you get the chance, you should really see these cinematic delights on the big screen. In addition to being beautifully shot, both films share a common coming-of-age theme on the fine line between good and evil.
“Winter in Wartime,” adapted from a boy's adventure book set in a Nazi occupied Holland village, is about a thirteen-year-old boy playing at the kind of adventure and suspense he reads in these books - until a real adventure falls in his lap (...actually more on the edge of town.) When a British plane is shot down, Michael (Martin Lakemeier) goes to explore the wreckage and is eventually drawn into the resistance when he assists the British paratrooper trapped behind enemy lines. This is the first time that Michael has felt some sense of power since the Nazis took over the town. It is hard to make out who to trust because so many of the townspeople seem to be in with the Nazis. He is confused when he sees his own father (the mayor) pandering to the Nazis and loses respect for him. But Michael finds that the line between good and evil isn't so easy to distinguish – especially when a Nazi soldier saves his life. Michael is forced to grow up fast and decide for himself where his loyalty and responsibility lies.
(review of, "In a Better World," below)