8:00 PM, 17th March, 2012
If you're like me and love Paris, you'll love this film as we get to spend 1 hour 42 minutes in familiar and unfamiliar parts, while enjoying an insight into the life of the bourgeoisie and their interaction with the lower classes. The film does an excellent job of showing us the culture, fashion, and social and sexual politics of Paris in the 1960s. It wonderfully evokes the ambience of Paris; you can almost smell and taste it, without the jetlag and the expense.
The central characters are the family, friends and colleagues of a wealthy stockbroker; along with the Spanish servants of the title who keep all of their homes running. The film raises issues about the difficulties of immigrant labour, how the 'upper class' raise their children and the ways they spend their time and money.
With the buzz of French and Spanish accents, the unfamiliar actors present a warm, enveloping experience for those who enjoy well-made family dramas. Some serious critics have found it 'simplistic', 'naïve', 'hard to swallow' but I disagree. One of the best films of the last year.
Un film charmant (a charming film). See, French isn't that difficult and there are subtitles if you want some help.
9:57 PM, 17th March, 2012
Pavel (Dobrygin) and Sergey (Puskepalis) are stationed on a remote Arctic meteorological station. The younger Pavel fails to pass on an important and urgent message to the experienced Sergey, and this sets in motion a chain of events that incorporates madness, isolation and cat-and-mouse chases.
This is one of those films made for those who love seeing great cinema on the big screen. The cinematography of the harsh Arctic wilderness is breath-taking, and adds to the creeping tension that permeates this film. The audio is also a major component, and the water, weather, boat and radio sounds will only be fully effective within the surround sound of Coombs. Not to mention the wonderful performances of the two leads (the actors shared the 2010 Silver Berlin).
I'm not sure if the genre term 'meditative thriller' has been coined yet, but it is how I'd describe this film. Michael Haneke (Hidden, Funny Games) is the director I would most closely associate with the category, but it also sparks some memories of one of my favourite directors, Ingmar Bergman. So if you are a fan of either of those auteurs I would advise you to check this one out.