I Don't Feel at Home In This World Anymore is an amusing, well-acted portrait of a woman finally driven to the edge of American society. Watching from Germany, it really seemed like a film about small-town America, disguised as an over-the-top thriller. Melanie Lynskey is particularly impressive in the title role, and Elijah Wood does what Elijah Wood does. At the end of the day, though, the film falls a little flat; its observations about American life and the nature of revenge don't lead anywhere, and the ending comes off a little hollow for my taste. Nevertheless worth the barely 90 minutes it asks.
Aquí no ha pasado nada (English title: Much Ado About Nothing, although the translation is very rough, and any Shakespearean implications fully irrelevant) shares much in common with Don't Feel at Home, with the caveat that it's a portrait of modern Chilean society (or at least a certain segment of it), masquerading as a crime drama. Like Don't Feel at Home, it remains mostly suspenseful and interesting, but loses significant steam in its last scenes; in this case, the director chooses to display a court case through witness testimonies, half-spoken, half-text-on-screen-- but the displayed text isn't the text being spoken, and it's all important to the plot. A nightmare with subtitles. And looking back, the film honestly isn't critical enough. It comes across as a bare reenactment of the real-life Chilean scandal it's based on (link in Spanish), displaying but not condemning its injustice. Entertaining, but not much staying power.
Now to the films I really liked:
Neruda is a very strange little film. It's an investigation into the life of Pablo Neruda, but also into the nature of film, of story itself-- without spoiling too much, it eventually ventures into a kind of experimentalism that I hadn't seen in film before. Ultimately not entirely successful, but in any case incredibly interesting. And Gael García Bernal is always great.
Temporada de Caza (Hunting Season) is the beautifully-shot and understated story of a father and estranged son reconnecting in the "wilds of Patagonia," as Netflix puts it. There's not really much I can say here-- the film is well-acted, well-shot, and has a convincing if sparse storyline. Nahuel's intensely emotional reaction to killing his first buck had me reconsidering eating meat. Definitely recommended.
In a similar vein, Absolute Giganten (Absolute Giants), recommended to me by my former roommate, belongs to a group of late-90s German films mostly distinguished by their quietness and slow pace. It takes a relatively played-out trope, the last night of partying before leaving forever, and tones it down to extract the beauty-- although it also has its I've watched it 3 times in the past few months, in part because it feels like a film about me.
The first memory I have is how my mother gave me a sparkler on New Year's. The sky was full of fireworks and rockets just exploding and spraying, and it was loud. But I wasn't afraid, I just-- held my sparkler in the sky and shook it. I shook it so well, so incredibly well, just, as well as I ever could, or even better, until I couldn't anymore, and then even more. And I was small, and the sparkler was small. But it was the best, the biggest thing I've ever experienced, and I was there, and I had no idea how incredible it was. And I don't think I've ever done something like that again-- so well, uncompromising, so totally. I don't think I ever experienced anything so great, so gigantic, ever again. Hey, what time is it?
Oh, and it's also home to the best foosball scene of all time, beloved in the German foosball community for its accuracy and badassery.