Men and Their Work

I never read reviews before I go to see or hear something. I want to form my own opinions, uninfluenced. So I'm surprised to see all the hoopla about a documentary and the less enthusiastic reviews about a story (that might as well be a documentary) which I saw this week.
La loi du marché or The Measure of a Man (Brizé, 2015) is a current tale of a middle-aged man sent for retraining as part of his employment search plan after being laid off. Vincent Lindon is again wonderful (as he was in Toutes Nos Envies or All Our Desires, Lioret 2011), playing the frustrated and humiliated Thierry Taugourdeau with incredible yet affective restraint. This poignant character study and damning social commentary is top-notch film: nothing's Hollywoody-obvious and the viewer is left to decide the ending's result based on what they have judged Taugourdeau to be, when he is faced with a moral dilemma. The supporting cast is excellent, as are the untrained actors used to fill out the story. But if you're underemployed at the moment, you might want to skip it.

Fuocoammare or Fire at Sea (Rosi, 2016) seemed like it would be an interesting review of the current migrant crisis: it focuses on Lampedusa, a small island which receives waves of "boat people" from countries in crisis. The stark realities of the refugees' plights are gripping (e.g. hearing their mayday calls via ship radios), the immigration-industry's employees are shown treating them with respect (don't know if that was for the camera's sake), and the rescued masses are whittled down to a few portraits which put the viewer uncomfortably close to their private griefs and stresses: an interesting premise. But this is not just about the immigrants, it's also about the Italian inhabitants of this quaint community and their everyday lives. Which is fascinating: the near-PTSD doctor, the radio station host/producer, the fishing widows and the ridiculously charming yet ordinary 12-year-old, Samuele Caruana. However, ne'er do the twain meet. This struck me as two documentaries stuck together with hope and perhaps good intentions, but the two worlds just don't intersect on the screen. There's no comment made about the two disparate groups; there's no interaction between them. The best that can be said is that the discrete film lines are intriguing sociological studies. I don't get why it has earned awards and nominations, and it was the first time I'd ever felt somewhat ripped off by a documentary. Okay to catch on Netflix, but I wouldn't recommend hauling yourself to a theatre to pay for entry and popcorn.

If you're in the mood for a good disaster movie, I highly recommend the Norwegian box-office hit Bølgen or The Wave (Uthaug, 2015) which is currently on Netflix and has excellent performances by Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp and Jonas Hoff Oftebro, who plays their son. The suspense is killer! 
Off to a private viewing for Imago members only of the Mystical Landscapes exhibition at the AGO tomorrow eve, then Tarragon Theatre next weekend to see The Realistic Joneses, which my friend is assitant director of. Ciao-ciao.


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