Monday, May 13, 2013

30 Countries Parts 14 - 16 (Police, Adjective/Window in to Summer/Cairo Time)

Police, Adjective (2009) Dir. Corneliu Porumboiu
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Part 14 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of Romanian origin as per its listing on imdb.

Police, Adjective is a minimalist police procedural film that follows the hard work of one man trailing a teenage boy on suspicion of drugs offences that is at the same time a portrait of post-Communist Romanian, a discussion of the nature of police work and the law, alienation and the effects of being a policeman on the policeman.

Very much cut from the same political cloth as Sjowal & Wahloo's Martin Beck sequence of novels, the slow pace and incredibly long takes become mesmerising from the first six minute silent tracking shot of the cop following the teen and doesn't let up through meals, meetings and stakeouts. I couldn't help but enjoy it and even now I find it growing on me further. It's not as powerful as my other recent Romanian film experience but is another superb example of what is coming out of that country in recent years.

Summer Window (2011) Dir. Hendrik Handloegten

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Part 15 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of Finnish origin as per its listing on imdb.

If Nina Hoss hadn't been so phenomenal in Barbara and if Barbara hadn't been so good there is no way the German Film Festival of Australia would have screened this film as it's just not very good.

Yes, I am complaining at being suckered in by the presence if Hoss and the soft science fiction angle of the plot, a soft science fiction time travel story that's been told a thousand times before with different variations sure; but still nothing interesting was done with the concept, nothing was at stake and I certainly didn't care whether the movie ended in a positive or negative manner for the protagonist, as long as it ended and ended soon.

I felt totally ripped off coming out of this movie, it was so half baked and ill conceived and completely misrepresented in the promotional material, i.e. they told lies to entice viewers.

Cairo Time (2009) Dir. Ruba Nadda

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Part 16 of the 30 Countries project.

For the purposes of this project this movie is classed as at least partially being of Irish origin as per its listing on imdb.

I've had this film sitting around the house for so long now that I'd completely forgotten why I picked it up in the first place. In my mind it had almost become an awful indie version of Eat Pray Love set in Egypt with Patricia Clarkson in the Julia Roberts role. This last fact being the only reason worth watching it, who wouldn't want to watch Patricia Clarkson in anything?

So having dismissed it as a bit of fluff I was more than a little surprised by the quality of the filmmaking from the very first scene and by how similar the dislocation of Clarkson's character from her surroundings were to Lost in Translation. Suddenly I remembered that I'm not the kind of person to pick up romantic fluff even if Patricia Clarkson was starring and infact, when was Patricia Clarkson ever in romantic fluff?

Ruba Nadda is a much less confrontational director than Sofia Coppola but in her own way she perfectly captures the near paralysing nature of arriving in a strange place with different customs to your own, the cacophony of sounds and overwhelming images attacking your brain, forcing you to wander around in a disconnected personalised fog. The way she brings you out of that at the same time as Clarkson is staged as wonderfully too.

There is a romantic angle to the film and it is staged with such a subtle touch you might be forgiven for missing it I suppose. That guy from Star Trek DS9 is so much more than a holiday fling, a tool to highlight the social and cultural differences of life in Egypt or a catalyst for personal awakening, he is a character in his own right and the perfect accompaniment to Clarkson's lead.

Having compared the film to Lost in Translation I should point out that this film is more impressive visually but lacks a little of that final punch to the guts that Coppola delivers via Bill Murray, so more than likely won't resonate quite so much with most viewers, but the final scenes, whilst expected, still manage to flaw you with their emotion.


  1. I like police procedural films, so I'm adding Police, Adjective to my watchlist. Summer Window looks interesting, but your review makes me hesitant. Cairo Time is good, even if it doesn't top Lost in Translation, as you mentioned.

    1. You've seen Cairo Time? The poster I used really captures the film I think. I can't imagine it will cloud your enjoyment of Police, Adjective but I should point out just incase that there are scenes composed of him standing on the street watching a house for example. Stuff to test the patience of some movie goers.

    2. Yeah, that poster is very appropriate. Thanks for the Police, Adjective heads-up.