At this point in my Netflix rentals I got back to my normal taste in movies - that is to say, completely off, mostly foreign, concept films. Of course, Netflix powerful marketing team is never very far away. I can always trust them to keep a watchful eye over my rental habits and tempt me with some modern blockbuster if it looks like I am veering off into unprofitable territory.
Movie: Time of the Wolf
My Rating: 3 stars
This is a French film that creates a pretty startling scenario about what would happen if our lovely Western countries actually faced a disaster that shut down all modern infrastructure. The theory here is that we would all devolve into a very Hobbesian state of nature in which we lie, cheat, steal, and fight each other for the very limited resources that are left. I think they get it about right. Isabelle Hupert stars as the mother of a family on holiday that is apparantly unaware that France has had an apocalypse until they reach their holiday cabin, which has been taken over by a family of squatters. Said family summarily shoots the patriarch and Isabelle and kid have to decided what to do. They end up joining us with an encampment at a nearby train depot.
Nothing much happens in this movie. There is a lot of fighting over water, batteries and food. Lots of "bartering." I suppose the scariest part of the movie is that we never really find out what happened to turn the country upside down. but then, I suppose that if such a huge disaster hit and all communication lines were down, most people wouldn't really know what was going on. Not knowing what to expect, and not knowing whether any aid will ever come would definitely make for a tense situation.
But that seems to be all the movie captures - the tension. The movie creates excellent atmosphere, but fails to go beyond that. Perhaps that's what the French do best.
Movie: Cane Toads: An Unnatural History
My Rating: 4 stars
Ok, Iwas lured to the film by the impossibly cute litte girl on the movie poster holding up a toad that has to be the size of her head. How can you go wrong with such delightful little children in your movie? I don't think you can. Although, I was a little upset that this particular little girl never actually appears in the actual film. This movie is a mini documentary about the cane toad problem in Australia. It is quite an odd length. Perhaps it was designed to show in a school's science class. It details how Australian farmers introduced the toads to the enviroment to solve their bug problem. It didn't take long to realize that these toads do not like to eat bugs. But by the time they did, it was too late and the toads had taken over the country. But I suppose if you are going to have a plague of small beasties, this is the way to go. These toads are so satisfyingly large that you can't help but want to pick one up and cradle it like the little urchin on the movie poster.
This little film is pure camp in the way that only an educational film from the 80s can be. Lot's of dramatic reinactments. Plenty of interviews will odd types like 80 year old men, or 5 year old girls....and of course one very bitter biologist, whose prize pet cat-weasle was poisoned by a toad. I'd say this movie is worth a look. It is so short that the pure campiness of the film will not become boring before it ends. I think this is destined to becorme a cult classic for sure.
Movie: Spinning Boris
My Rating: 3 stars
Ok, I have to admit that I was totally not paying attention to this movie when I watched it. When Jeff Goldblum goes into his arrogant act (happens in every film, I think)my eyes glaze over and I stop listening. I suppose this movie was about American advertising spin masters trying to help Boris Yeltsin's presidential campaign. I suppose it was supposed to be a comedy too. But honestly, it didn't make any lasting impression on me, positively or negatively. Maybe this movie was made for political hacks who love to see all the back room deals and campaign tricks. I guess that's not for me.