‘Mother, I Love You’ Latvia’s Oscar Entry, Makes Its East Coast Premiere At The Hamptons Film Festival Oct 12 2013
Day 3 Hamptons International Film Festival Oct 12 2013
3 movies today, all good. First ‘Tim’s Vermeer’ follows inventor Tim Jenison through his project to discover how Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) painted such precise compositions in an era that pre-dated photography. He theorizes that lenses and mirrors must have been utilized to create such detailed work successfully. That perhaps other renowned painters like Caravaggio (1571-1610) and DaVinci (1452-1519) utilized similar optical techniques.
Back in the 17th century, you couldn’t go down to the corner paintstore and buy any color paint you wished to use. Vermeer had to make his own paints, and also, Jenison theorizes, his own lenses and mirrors. So to reproduce what Vermeer had to go through, Tim attempts to be Vermeer and do what he had to do. The work is painstaking, but Tim is up to the challenge, including seeing details in the paintings through his created lenses, and therefore having to reproduce these, often dab by tiny tiny dab. After many months he tediously meticulously completes a re-creation of ‘The Music Lesson’ (originally completed in 1665 by Vermeer, according to Wikipedia), whose production was filmed on nine cameras each time he sat down in the studio and flipped just one switch. The movie is a tribute to Vermeer and Tim Jenison’s dedication and persistence to complete a task he began back in 2008. English painter David Hockney appears and is heard enthusiastically commenting on Tim’s theories in approbation. He confesses he never used optics or lenses while completing any of his own works. As for Vermeer and his minimal number of extremely fine works: estimates vary from 26 to under 70 total paintings produced by the master, who died in debt at the age of 43.
‘Mother, I Love You,’ is a Latvian movie shot in Riga, though the city is not shot distinctively for beauty or historic insight. Just another gritty city backdrop for a story of escalating imminent disaster, fed by lies and more lies to cover up unfortunate acts committed by a twelve year old boy, the son of a hard-working single mother. He has a confederate, who lives a parallel existence. The themes of two young boys in trouble, and the propagation of lies, seem to be recurring themes in this year’s film festival. Notably, the Irish ‘The Selfish Giant’ treads along similar misadventuring tracks with two similarly aged boys; and then there is the lie-lie-lying of Jayson Blair in the NY Times story within ‘A Fragile Trust.’ ‘Mother, I Love You’ is Latvia’s Oscar entry, and actually is a very excellent compelling movie, well-acted, and well-cinematized, that I would recommend seeing. I loved the band and the choir and the sea of unique Latvian faces shared with an audience of festival goers far from the Baltic nation’s European streets. The star Kristofers Konovalovs is a handsome innocent-looking charismatic youngster who is quite the (non-motorized) scooter dooter, speeding around Riga on his metal device, and putting on a show in the indoor skater park until the lights go out.
‘Before The Revolution’ is a documentary revealing the goings on in Iran before Ayatollah Kohmeini arrived in 1979, that led up to the revolution against the Shah and his dictatorial excesses. Israelis were welcomed into Iran by the admiring Shah in the 1960’s and 1970’s to help modernize Iran and build up its infrastructure. We are told by interviewees that Israelis built most of Iran’s dams, also supplying weapons, and helping with developing the oil industry to a new level of efficiency and magnitude. However, they also too blatantly indulged in excess and wealth, that clashed with what the common Iranian could not afford or experience. Dan Shadur’s footage shows us much of this, including interviews with beneficiaries of the Shah’s hospitality, and men in Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, who were deployed in Iran, and then had to escape like the Americans did from Vietnam when the end of the rainbow in Iran tragically snapped shut. There is also the parallel to Jews not believing anything would happen to them, as in Nazi Germany, when Hitler and his vindictive hate were stewing up the masses. The story of the revolution in Iran shows that initially it was students marching through the streets, the military shooting them down, the Shah deciding he did not want to kill his own people, the Ayatollah returning from exile in Paris, the students thinking they could recruit him to their secular left-wing cause, the Ayatollah instead taking over the revolution, installing himself as the venerable leader, and the rest is the history many of us know…An informative movie, shedding new light on an old story that now can be viewed from a different perspective, after viewing ‘Before The Revolution.’