The Look of Silence

Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, for all itsgruesomeness, was one of my top films of 2013.This is a companion piece to that, but the emphasis is on the victims rather than the perpetrators.

While not quite as punch-you-in-the-face as The Act of Killing (although maybe it would be if you haven’t already visited Oppenheimer’s previous film), a couple of things are quite remarkable. One is the Silence of the title – Oppenheimer is content for there to be numerous, lengthy silences throughout, leaving the camera on individuals so that it is evident that words are only half (or sometimes not at all) the truth.

The other is the total courage of the protagonist Adi. He surely must be putting himself and his family in danger all over again, but his simple insistence on forcing people to face the grisly truth is brave beyond anything I can imagine.

I only hope Oppenheimer hasn’t left him high and dry.

Force Majeure

A film which challenges our own view of ourselves. We probably have an idea of how we think we would react in extreme circumstances, but until we are actually put in that position, most of us will probably never know.

And when you discover yourself to be a very different person from the one both you and those around you thought you were, where does that leave your relationships?

With some wryly funny moments and stunning cinematography, this film places this scenario on the table and opens up a whole can of worms. It’s uncomfortable more than funny, and asks a whole bunch of awkward questions.

En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron – A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

At times very funny, at times sad, and at times quite horrific, this surreal film is … well, surreal!

There is much that does make the viewer reflect on existence, on aspects of humanity, on death and life. It uses a bland, washed-out colour palette which matches the dead-pan delivery of much of the dialogue, and plays up the monotony and desperation of most of the protagonists. Reflecting on life, it seems, is serious business.

I certainly didn’t understand it, but I was entertained.

Wakolda

The true story of an Argentinian family in the 1960s, who cross paths with a German doctor as they set out to begin a new life in Patagonia.

How lovely to have a film written and directed by a woman: Lucía Puenzo (who also directed XXY, yet another film featuring a girl with a genetic disorder).

Not that ‘lovely’ is the correct word for the film. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, but there’s a growing creepiness and chill about the storyline, without at all being a horror film or even a thriller – it’s similar in tone (but not content) to another excellent Argentinian film El Secreto de sus Ojos. We are gradually drawn in to the family’s new home and surroundings until the dawning realisation that not everyone’s motivations are as they seem.

Highly recommended.