Archive for January 21st, 2009

“Jenny Bee,” one of Craig’s Kennedy’s most revered commenters at his fantastically-popular ‘Living in Cinema’ site today had fellow bloggers breathless and in awe of her defining treament of the Pixar masterpiece, ‘Wall-E’ today on the ‘Watercooler’ thread and its deeply-moving effect on so many critics and moviegoers.  The film was the year’s most critically-praised.

Explore the piece for yourself here…


WALL-E is at its heart a celebration of humanity’s ingenuity, creativity, and capacity to overcome even our worst selfish, slothful impulses and grow into something better, for the sake of something bigger than our own bloated selves. It’s about the power of one, the power of two, the power of many. WALL-E himself is as much a human invention as the mess he was created to clean up; his character traits (resourcefulness, curiosity, loneliness, dilligence, loyalty, friendship, love, rashness, courage, the ability to learn) are a direct reflection of our own. Eve, too, is a product of us, directly or indirectly. It’s a story, not new, but told in new ways, that reminds us through hyperbole and metaphor of how much we, today, now, need to remember to cherish life in all its forms and have the courage to trust and reclaim our own creative spirit.

WALL-E tells this story in a dazzlingly beautiful technical feat of animation that on a somewhat meta level itself makes the same thematic case: Look what beauty we can create, how warm and imaginative this technology can be, bringing us closer together and to our best selves. We mortals cannot be underestimated, and neither can the possibilities of animation. The art direction, animated cinematography, editing, sound, all the technicals are top shelf.

And as a bonus for film critics, WALL-E simultaneously draws from eight decades of cinematic history–most notably, from the dawn of cinema–to quietly honor film’s most powerful and poignant role in our lives, that of sustaining us in the dark times and reminding us, through whatever improbable means (Hello, Dolly, of all films, is the one highlighted), of what’s really important. It’s a film rich in symbolism and layers of meaning that is steeped in film history and makes a strong argument for film’s future.

The screenplay gives equal weight to humanity’s dual talents for destruction and construction, using the current gathering environmental crisis as a trope that grounds the otherwise sci-fi fantasy in relevance to our immediate future. The real villains in the picture aren’t mutinous AI, but the demons within ourselves that compel us to consume more and more and faster and easier and forget what it is that makes us human, that creative spark and need to forge a path ever forward.

Meanwhile, it has a timeless love story between a bumbling but charming and well-intentioned Chaplin-esque male and a fierce and feminist female who connects to her softer core self, each of whom changes and grows better for knowing the other during the course of the film. That’s what real romance does, makes us better people individually and as a couple for discovering that soul-sustaining partnership. It is a love that was never programmed to be, and yet, must be.

It’s a film that like the best of sci-fi asks, “What if?” and then takes us on a bleak path that does not have to be. It’s a film that channels the deep undercurrent of hope, even amidst the darkest of crises–the death of our planet and the devolution of our species–and has a resounding echo of the rallying cry of a very frightening 2008: “Yes we can!”

To top it off, and almost as asides to its other many treasures, WALL-E also contains significant amounts of humor that don’t rely on fart jokes and pop culture allusions, a misshapen band of merry Island-of-Lost-Toys-esque robots who discover they still have value, a prolonged and joyfully magical cinematic sequence of robots in love spiraling through space, and an endearing cockroach who just won’t die.

 It’s one heck of a great film, in my opinion.

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by Allan Fish

(Poland 1947 110m) not on DVD

Aka. Ostatni Etap

The life of No 14111

p  Wanda Jakubowska  d  Wanda Jakubowska  w  Gerda Schneider, Wanda Jakubowska  ph  Bentsion Monatsyrsky  ed  Wanda Jakubowska  m  Roman Palester  art  Csezlaw Pieskowski, Roman Mann

Tatjana Gorecka (Eugenia), Antonina Gorecka (Anna), Barbara Drapinska (Marta Weiss), Huguette Faget (Michele), Wanda Bartowna (Helena), Maria Winogradowa (Nadia), Barbara Fijiewska (Anielka), Anna Redlikowna (Urszula), Alina Janowska (Dessa), Zofia Mrzowska (Cyganka), Aleksandr Slaska, Barbara Rachwalska, Wladislaw Brochwicz,

Wanda Jakubowska’s film makes a point of stating, in its opening caption, that what follows, though based on authentic events, is “a fraction of the truth about the concentration camp at Auschwitz.  We remind you that at Auschwitz four and a half million people from various countries were exterminated under the Nazi occupation.”  One might hear oneself responding “as if we could ever forget“, were it not for the fact that such a response reeks of flippancy.  This is not a flippant film in any way, shape or form.  It’s literally deadly serious.  People used to having the horrors detailed in the likes of Schindler’s List may think the sequences lack the power of Spielberg’s later film, or indeed some of the sequences in Andrzej Munk’s later unfinished kindred spirit film, Passenger.  Yet it’s this very matter-of-factness that makes Jakubowska’s film so utterly chilling.  Besides, she and co-writer Schneider were actual survivors of Auschwitz, so I think we can safely say they knew better than us how to accurately portray the horrors that occurred within those theatres of death. (more…)

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