3 February 2023.
A MAN CALLED OTTO (Le pire voisin du monde) **1/2
There’s no doubt about it, this one is a crowd-pleaser. It’s the slow-brewing story of Otto, a grouchy man who has lost his beloved wife and also his will to live. But there’s always hope, isn’t there, in the form of a boisterous young family who moves in across the street. Through her bubbly and loving nature, Marisol (Mariana Trevino), the insistent wife of these new neighbours, manages to slowly break down his resistance to any social interaction. And of course Otto is portrayed by everyone’s favourite, Tom Hanks.
Now that he is retired and tired of constantly bossing the residents about the rules of his neighbourhood, Otto has decided to end his life. But it’s not that easy. Director Marc Forster (“Monster’s Ball”, “The Kite Runner”, “Quantum of Solace”) takes his time in recounting the various threads of this tale, along with flashbacks that show Otto’s past life with his beautiful young wife. Through it all, it’s Marisol who unknowingly keeps pulling him back from the brink.
One knows from the get-go where this obvious feel-good movie is going. Somehow the characters are almost too good to be true and of course cover the gamut of today’s various life styles and ethnicities.
This work, produced by both Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, is actually based on a 2015 film from Sweden called “A MAN CALLED OVE. The trouble (for me) is that the original was a better film – a more discreet and convincing story about this shy-man-turned-grouch. But if you’re new to this gentle tale, you may very well love it, for today’s world certainly needs more warm-hearted stories like this.
CARAVAGE **** (vo Italian)
This is a film not to miss if you are an art-lover. It tries to set straight the turbulent life of Caravaggio (played by Riccardo Scamarcio), born Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the great Italian late-Renaissance painter who created some of the most dramatic and realistic works, both religious and social, of his time.
His life has been a troubling mystery to those who are in awe of his work, for he was accused of murdering a man in Rome and escaped to Naples to await a possible pardon from the Pope, who was both an admirer and a patron of his. It seems the killing was actually an act of self-defence.
Actor and screenwriter Michele Placido has directed this sumptuous film with a grand visual mastery, as though you were living in Caravaggio’s paintings, and a clear eye to history. He documents the events and the many actors of the time, from the theocratic figures, the aristocratic families (including the ever-present Isabelle Huppert as a wealthy protector of the artist), and through to the miserable, downtrodden classes – those very individuals whom Caravaggio often used as his subjects in his paintings, to the horror of the ‘elites’.
Placido also includes himself as the influential Cardinal del Monte in the Vatican and uses the excellent Louis Garrel as a fictitious figure called “the Shadow”, who leads us through the many phases of Caravaggio’s tempestuous life – his astonishing talent, spiritual devotion, debauchery and numerous drunken brawls. Caravaggio was merely human – but one can definitely be in awe of his towering talent.
(Showing at the Grütli)
KNOCK AT THE CABIN
I have not seen this film as I don’t appreciate horror and excessive violence, nor the dark, grim works of M. Night Shyamalan, except for his 1999 breakout film, “The Sixth Sense”.
But it will bring in the crowds, as unfortunately horror and violence seem to be big sellers in our troubled world.
What comes first – daily savagery or the mirror of it in films? The chicken or the egg?
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.
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