I chanced upon two films from two separate countries that are quite different from each other.
From Russia comes Viatcheslav Koturevskiy’s ‘Sibera and Him,’ about two men falling in love in the midst of Siberian country. A lot of people have compared this to Brokeback Mountain and I can see why – this is set in the open country as well, as two men travel to check on one’s grandmother, who hasn’t been answering her calls. But this is Putin’s Russia, and these men cannot be themselves, to very tragic results. I thought the film was slow moving, and even its scant running time felt long. But there was always something that caught your attention, and seeing barren Siberia felt very conducive to what the characters are feeling.
‘Cousins,’ (Primos) from Brasil, directed by Mauro Carvalho and Thiago Cazado, is much lighter compared to the Russian film above. In fact, it is quite joyous considering Brasil nowadays seem to be as restrictive, as far as gay rights, as Russia with its new homophobic President. Two distant cousins (one just out from prison) hang out at a house, and they just start to fall in love. In the beginning, there is not much conflict, but their religious neighbors rear their ugly heads after. But it is treated almost comically, and this really is one of those feel-good films. But, there isn’t much else here if you are looking for some depth. But sometimes all you need is two young actors with great chemistry and you’re good to go.
Three Films, Short Thoughts.
‘The Hero,’ stars Sam Elliot as an aging actor who had a memorable role in a Western movie. Written specifically for Mr. Elliott, it is a moody piece – the character in the beginning of the movie discovers that he has cancer and goes through the process of notifying his family of his diagnosis, all the while dealing with how an older actor has to navigate his way into today’s society. Needless to say, Elliot is fantastic here, subtle and never on point. The movie skews ‘too sentimental’ at times but never really goes there, thanks to Elliot’s sweet and sour take on his role.
‘Double Lover,’ from France (It was France’s entry for the Academy last year) is a wild ride of a movie. It has an incredulous plot – a pair of twins bed the same lady patient, but do the twins really exist or is this all a figment of her imagination? This movie is crazy, complete with close ups of clitoris shots. I never really believed in any of it, but boy does the film come down easy – instantly going into the so-bad-its-good category. I know it is trying to be erotically charged, but really it just made me giggle. I actually do recommend this film, but probably not for the reasons you think.
‘He Loves Me’ by Kinstantinos Menelaou is an odd movie. It’s about a couple who takes a trip away from the city to some beach town (I am assuming this is Greece) and when they get there, they ‘evaluate’ their relationship. But the whole film is told from voice-overs from one of the guys. He starts to talk about everything from how they meet to how they are feeling to where they are right now in the relationship. It’s all nice and fuzzy, but…very odd. I couldn’t really get into the conceit of the film, and found myself bored, even as the run time of the film is barely more than an hour.