My Head Hurts

Monday, August 14, 2006

My Head Hurts

My Dutch isn't too good, and I get quite tired if I have to speak it for more than an hour or so at a time. This weekend, I watched two movies that were in languages I don't speak (Serbo-Croatian and Italian) with Dutch subtitles. A lot of work, but it was worth it.

These aren't hidden gems that I've discovered; one won the Palm d'Or at Cannes, and the other swept the "Italian Oscars" a couple of years ago. But if you don't keep up with foreign films, you might want to check them out.

The first was Underground, which was made in Serbia during the horrible wars of the 1990s. It's a bit surreal and very funny, but ultimately quite disturbing. It follows the lives of three protagonists: two men, best friends, who fight the Nazis; and an actress they both love. The title comes from the fact that one of the men keeps a group of people, including the other man, living in a cellar and manufacturing guns for 20 years after the war is over, telling them that the war is still going on outside. There's a lot of German dialogue along with the Serbo-Croatian, but I don't speak German either.

The second was La Finestra di fronte, which was released in the U.S. as Facing Windows. This is the story of a woman who is not content with her life. Two events push her towards making a drastic change: her husband takes in a demented Holocaust survivor; and she falls in love with a neighbor who spends hours at his window watching her. There are some dramatic twists in the plot, which I won't give away. Apart from an excellent script and excellent performances from the three principal actors, the movie is notable for the fact that Giovanna Mezzogiorno, who plays the discontented woman, is unbelievably beautiful. She is scheduled to play one of the main characters in Love in the Time of Cholera, which will come out next year.

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