21 May 2021.
One thinks of idyllic, “happiness-quotient” Bhutan as a peaceful, verdant, quite closed country of rural people. Well, this film shows how hip and world-conscious the young are in its capital, and why one of them wants to leave for the wider world.
Bhutan does not make many films, but when they do and they reach our screens, they are often beautifully crafted, delicate stories of this phenomena of educated youth wanting to expand their horizons by leaving, and the country’s desire to keep them at home for their contribution to the future and betterment of Bhutan.
This one is of the same ilk, about a teacher who is planning to further his singing ambitions in Australia, but is in the meantime sent to teach in a very remote, backward, high-altitude village called Lunana.
The gentle, sincere hospitality of the villagers and the sweet adoration of the children are a contrast to the harsh living conditions to which the teacher must accommodate. A young peasant girl who is an avid singer of local music, also begins to break down his barriers.
Though the story might seem somewhat cliched, the beauty of the wondrous nature, the naturalistic acting of the mostly amateur players, and the heartfelt intention of the director, Pawo Choyning Dorji – an avid Buddhist and photographer – lulls us into a zen-like mood of complete acceptance. This is simple, yet masterful filmmaking that will both charm, amuse and inform you of a far flung world of which we know little. (Showing only at the Grütli).
LES LIENS (Lacci) *** (vo Italian)
A contented couple with two children is torn apart when the husband confesses a recent love affair to his wife. Such ruptures with all their turmoil and jealousies often happen, but what about the effects on the children? This film by Daniele Luchetti examines, over a span of thirty years and two generations, the consequences the parent’s battles can have on their offspring.
In its precise, quite Italian treatment of an age-old dilemma, the film reveals how adults can destroy the lives and viewpoints of their children by losing control of their own egoistic reactions. Fine ensemble acting and a surprising finale make this an interesting endeavor.
MANDIBULES *1/2 (vo French)
I have been a fan of Quentin Dupieux’s films since I first saw his typically hilarious and outrageous RUBBER – about a killer tire in the American West – at the Locarno film festival back in 2010. And then there were AU POSTE! with Benoît Poelvoorde and LE DAIM with Jean Dujardin, both completely deranged comedies with a surrealistic twist to them. The former was about an inept police inspector who ends up with a body in his filing cabinet, and the latter with Dujardin dangerously obsessed with a suede jacket.
Dupieux’s humor is certainly an acquired taste, for it’s really mad genius that drives his cinematic art. Unfortunately, this latest one is a sort of dull copy of the “Dumb and Dumber” duo. It’s about two idiots who find a gigantic fly – the size of a medium dog – in the trunk of a stolen car and decide to train it. Go figure. It drags on in its idiocies, but the ending, if you last that long, is its saving grace. In fact, it’s worth sitting through the whole miserable film for it. Frustrating, that.
TOM & JERRY *1/2
Why, oh why does modern Hollywood insist on ruining animated films for children by making them so terribly destructive? This one starts off sweetly enough, with wonderful vistas of a shiny Manhattan with its majestic skyline and Central Park. Our good old Tom cat has come to the Big Apple with big dreams and his keyboard to get into the groove of things, but that cute little pesky mouse, Jerry, manages to sabotage his little gig in the Park, and the mayhem starts from there.
This mix of live action and animation has the two old rivals creating complete havoc in a top hotel in the city where a celebrity wedding is being planned. It could have been fun, but the overblown script, all the bedlam and unnecessary violence, and too many foolish characters, make it a chore to watch. How will the kids react? But then they’ve become accustomed to this sort of “amusement”, haven’t they?
If you want excellent animation, download Pixar’s more adult, “Soul”.
By the way, a reader complained that a film I had written about could not be found on Netflix. That could be due to licensing laws for various countries. I do sometimes mention good films and series on their site, but my allegiance will always be to the big screen, without the distractions of home life that can take away from full immersion into filmdom.
So do get out there whenever you can, for yourselves and for our brave, struggling cinemas.
And once again, for venues and times of the films go to cineman.ch – geneva.
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.