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‘Oh Boy’ German Oscar Winner Shines At Hamptons Film Festival 10 11 2013

Day 2 Hamptons International Film Festival, October 11, 2013

We attended five shows today.  Let’s start off with the best one for the day, the one that ‘swept the 2013 German Oscars’ : ‘Oh Boy.’ This devolving movie, shot in black and white,  reveals the rather severe, yet philosophic German psyche with humor and a passive existential quirkiness – – imparted by the  main character Niko Fischer (Tom Schilling), whom we meet as ‘Oh Boy’ begins in the bedroom, has a lovely very-short-haired woman excitedly interested in his handsome tragic self, but he can’t promise to meet her next night, and when he goes home and opens his letters in his new apartment, he realizes he has to rush to a psychiatric evaluation concerning his drinking and driving problems, and that is where it all begins.  That psychiatrist was some character.  As is Niko’s former schoolmate (see photo) who talks about being three times bigger when they were in public school as why he doesn’t seem to remember her now, when she’s looking so tight and pert,  a dancer in a new production.  Then there is the extreme dance choreographer/composer/director, so strangely aggressive to Niko and friend/actor Mahte’s reaction to the performance of  his production. The drunken character in the white suit in the bar, recently returned to Germany after sixty years away, turns out to be a very intriguing individual who shouts how when he was young he went around performing the “Heil Hitler” salute, participating in the Nazi hate antics, not realizing what it all meant, his aggravated voice loud – to the consternation of the bartender; he also telling Niko about breaking windows by throwing stones that his father supplied, and why he cried afterward. There is regret and anger in his emotions the evening Niko meets him, Niko actually wanting to be alone.  And can Niko ever get some coffee?  This terrific film is well worth your viewing, giving you great insight into what it is to be German today, as those who lived through Hitler’s time fade away out of our lives. 

One more thing: this film’s protagonist is confronted by an aggressive society, aggressive interrogators and individuals, and he tries to respond to them thoughtfully, deliberately, which is of insufficient speed in today’s hepped-up world.  This has an effect on the justice resulting from the interaction.  Several films in this festival, including ‘The Runaway’ – which won the Berlin film festival’s best short award (see Oct 13, 2013 post) – displayed this facet of today’s existence on planet Earth.

‘Connections’ was one of the best arrays of shorts that I’ve seen at HIFF so far.  Every one of the five presented were stellar, topped with ‘Walking The Dogs’ starring Emma Thompson as Queen Elizabeth, when the spurned Londoner husband clipped the Buckingham Palace chicken wire, and somehow made it into her bedroom, back in 1982.  Fantastic dialogue, great insight into life and freedom and marriage and responsibility and how we use our time, whether we are the Queen or a lowly laborer who preferred not to be a foreman because then he’d have no friends to have a drink with on a Friday night.


‘Across Grace Alley,’ was shot in the west village of NYC and is an heartwarming tale featuring a young boy of divorced parents (Ben Hyland) who has to stay with his grandmother (Marsha Mason) for a few days.  There is infatuation and voyeurism across Grace Alley as the apartments herein have no curtains, for some reason.  The dancing and Latin beauty of fiery Karina Smirnoff entrances our ten year old protagonist.

‘The Opportunist,’ is a tale of party invasion by a dastardly nasty handsome frightening character in dark suit and shirt and black tie.  Never approach a lone wolf, even if his entrails are dangling out of his belly, is one of the messages of wisdom mouthed in the movie by the charismatic star who should go very far in the acting world, Nick Clifford.

  David Lassiter is the director.  ‘Dotty,’ was a charming vignette shot in a nursing home in New Zealand featuring an elderly woman with dementia attempting to use one o’ those newfangled cell phones with the assistance of a tested but remaining-patient younger woman.

 ‘A Poet Long Ago’ is about two men, one a writer and the other, the poet who inspired him to become a writer.  But, for the latter, that was back in high school.  Now it’s forty years later, and we learn about the poet having to write in secret, because he has a Sicilian father who thinks poets are fags; that what is of real value in terms of work and labor is that done with the hands, not the mind.  From a story from the Brooklynite writer, Pete Hamill.


‘A Selfish Giant’ – was a serious downgoing cascading scrapiron ghetto Ireland tale that will grind up your brains and singe them so that perhaps somewhere therein may result what could prove to be a permanent scar, unless the plot – – and climax, especially – – of this agonizing movie may somehow be forgotten.  I would not recommend this one to most moviegoers, including myself and my traumatized wife.  Maybe if you are an ironmonger or scrapheap owner, or you like horses, or if you are an electrician or lineman, and are Irish so you don’t need subtitles, like most of us did for at least half of the dialogue/verbiage, I would guess – – subtitles for a very vernacular dialogue, which were not provided as they are for some patois language movies like ‘The Harder They Come’ and other West Indian works, as one broad example…If you love me, forgettabouttit, I reckon most of you would say to me for this movie that makes me cringe to think I actually chose to see it…Nevertheless, technically it rung up the bell of the Jury for their choice as ‘Best Narrative’ – – Some people like downer movies, or movies that are down and dirty, like the uniform of a hustling baseball player.  But if you do see it, and it doesn’t suit your tolerance for violence, or extreme spiritual pain, don’t blame me for you not missing it.   A big AI!! and an ARRRGGGHH!!!! or four for  a ‘Selfish Giant!’


‘Under The Rainbow’ – is an adorable, humorous, but then not-so-innocent French romantic movie, angelic, compromising – – Sandro (Arthur Dupont) and his curmudgeon, but very tersely funny father Pierre (Jean-Pierre Bacri) interacting, the fortune teller meeting Pierre at his father’s funeral reminding him of her prediction from forty years ago for the day of his death to be March 14 of this year.  Dangerous driving, twists and turns in love interests, the music producer/mogul/ladies’ man Wolff (Benjamin Biolay), lovely freezing idyllic segue art affects as scenes change, make this film unique, with a good bit of clemency.


‘A Fragile Truth’ about Jayson Blair, the bipolar plagiarist and liar who brought down a few editors of the NY Times before all was said and done, is a seven year project of director Samantha Grant.  Blair, manic-depressive, as our unfortunate wunderkind openly confesses, and much more, helps this journalistically revealing documentary portray the events and the people in the troubling story most of us do not know all the details of, which the movie provides in depth with interviews of people in the newspaper world.  This includes the editor Hollis Raines, brought to the Times as executive editor five days before Sept 11, 2001.  The Times was awarded a record seven Pulitzers for their 9/11 reporting, but then the Blair affair segued over the accomplishment and its celebration, and the public’s appreciation of ‘The World’s Greatest Newspaper.’  Insight into Blair’s personality, his history of false statements going back to high school, his disease and his self-medication with drugs; what the critics say, several of whom wrote books about what happened with Blair and the NY Times, are developed with interviews and images of articles and false by-lines.


Day 3 upcoming next.  First movie in the morning will be ‘Tim’s Vermeer’ about the exacting extremely skilled Dutch painter.


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