29 September 2017.
THE YOUNG KARL MARX **** (vo German, French, English)
Haitian director Raoul Peck knows how to make films that move you and shake you to the core.
As a political militant, he makes films about history, humanity and injustices that cause you to reflect and feel the larger truths with your gut, literally.
The first film of his that I saw was I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, a searing documentary on James Baldwin and the assassinations of three great black figures. It was a haunting experience. In this film he has taken up the life and works of Marx, instigator of one of the most important social revolutions in history, along with his friend Frederick Engels.
To go from documentary to a feature film based on historical facts is not a given, but Peck has managed it with both mastery and discretion. From the excellent dialogue, acting, editing, the intermingling of languages depending on the locations, and the delicate music, he pulls us into the young lives of Marx and Engels in the 1840s, as they took on the incredible idea of setting workers free and giving them decent wages. It was a dangerous and revolutionary idea for the times.
From Germany to Manchester, Paris, London and Brussels, Peck follows dedicated men and women who believed in the new idea of equality and freedom from the slave labor of the Industrial Revolution – a revolution that had benefited the industrialists and condemned the workers to poverty and horrific living conditions.
This is an eye-opener of the first order, above and beyond our knowledge of the Communist movement or our opinion of it. As in I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, Peck seems to be continuously capable of transmitting larger ideas. Here he makes us witness to the details and importance of the ideals of the Communist movement, rather than the flaws in its later manifestations.
BARRY SEAL – AMERICAN MADE (AMERICAN TRAFFIC) ***1/2
This is quite a story. And our perennial Tom Cruise makes it his own – with great charm and panache. It’s a true one, an American original – about a daredevil drug-trafficker abetted by the CIA and the White House, and all manner of hypocrisies and duplicitous conspiracies that are not usually divulged.
The story starts off in Arkansas and spreads across the map towards neighboring countries in South America – Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua – for Barry Seal was a professional pilot recruited by the CIA to bring in South American ‘Contras’ to train in the U.S., and then send them back to Nicaragua to undermine the government there. Plus hustling drugs to finance the whole operation. Remember the Iran-Contra scandal in the mid-1980s under the Reagan administration? Remember his Teflon presidency, when nothing bad stuck to him?
This engrossing film by Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity”, “Edge of Tomorrow”) is both a hoot and a tragedy, but also frightening when you stop to reflect upon all its implications. Upon all the times similar scenarios have been reproduced in various forms and countries around the world.
Just go buy your ticket and have a great time watching a hillbilly deposit and bury millions of dollars in his home state of Arkansas. For here is the greatest, cleanest, most up-standing country in the world – so repeats the Orange Man, even today…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.