Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fellini meets Chaplain meets Desert Storm

Subject: Cinema
Latest on my Netflix delivery was Roberto Benigni's "The Tiger and the Snow". I figured that the guy who could do a poingant comedy about being a prisoner in a concentration camp could probably have an interesting take on the shit that we're inflicting on Iraq right now.

And really, it was okay. Not quite as compelling as the previous movie, by any stretch. But he once again makes a serious backdrop the vehicle for the absurd counterpoint to his simple, focused storytelling. In this case, he is an Italian poet who is madly in love with a writer, to the point that he has the same surreal dream about marrying her. Every night. The movie opens with that dream, and it's got a very strong post-Fellini sensibility to it.

When he finds out that she's been mortally injured in Baghdad while interviewing a mutual friend (played by Jean Reno), he drops everything and rushes off to find her. With an obsessive (and generally comic) purpose, he takes on any task he has to in order to try and get her the medicine and care she needs to pull through. Baghdad, of course, is a mess and there's no medical supplies. There's bullets and explosions and looting and flies and a lot of strife all around. But he's persistant and plucky -- and lucky.

If you don't pay too close attention to the details, it works out alright. It's kind of stretching the boundaries in a few places, and kind of having a hard time balancing a bit of preachiness with actual plot points. And I'm totally sympathetic to the message. Ah well.

Of course, there's a big surprise twist at the end, and I kind of smacked myself for not seeing it coming. But the fact that I didn't made up for a lot of the weakness otherwise.

On the whole, there's nothing profound or outstanding about it for me. But I did enjoy the contrast of story simplicity to setting. There were nice and/or interesting moments throughout. And Benigni is interesting to watch as a character. So, worthwhile overall, I figure.

No comments: