Sunday, June 29, 2008

Today is NYC Gay Pride Day! I'm at NYC Pridefest all day today, representing Sundance Outdoor, the fabulous LGBT outdoor activities club...

(Near) East Is (Near) East, West Is West

Two weeks ago David and I saw 'Edge of Heaven,' a German movie about immigrant Turks and native Germans that's the follow-up to Fatih Akin's similarly-themed, popular 'Head On.' It's a good and engaging film, if not a great one, and it piques one's curiosity about the characters and the setting (Germany and Turkey). It's been a while since I've attempted film review or the five parameters... Here goes...

1. Four Words That Encapsule: 'Cross-Cultural Crossed Paths, Detours'

2. Haiku (5/7/5):
'comfort, freedom, hope...
First World Man takes for granted..
hard to win, then lose...'

3. Oblique Commentary: a) The original title is 'On the Other Side' - how did they ever come up with 'Edge of Heaven' for English-speaking markets; b) I always find it cute that Europeans, particularly Germans, raised in the 'socialist paradise,' actually expect life - and society - to try and be fair, and react with child-like disbelief, even tantrums, when outrageous fortune sends slings and arrows their way.

They see the state as mommy and daddy, bound to take care of its children. It's kind of sad, pathetic, but also somewhat touching. We Americans are far more accustomed to life's randomness and inequities - that's something we have in common with the third world... I remember asking some Argentines how they were in the early 1990s, when the government reacted to an economic crisis by freezing (ie, stealing) middle class bank deposits. I asked how they were, they answered 'really screwed, but used to it...'

c) Veteran German actress Hanna Schygulla (above, left) gives an excellent supporting performance as the mother of a young lesbian college student who falls for a Turkish refugee and takes substantial risks to save the woman she loves...

4. Insight. a) Very early in the movie we see an 'out of sequence' scene of a driver stopping at a gas station in the Turkish countryside and making small talk with the convenience store cashier - this scene is repeated about 3/4 through the movie, but the scene is not pivotal in any way and the use of this device, frankly, puzzles me; b) The irony of illegal immigration is how the outsider is willing to risk everything, sacrifice, and live in uncertainty and fear for the slimmest shot at what the insider takes for granted and often, frankly, wastes.. That's is certaintly not the point of this movie - the immigrants here are not unambiguously noble, but the long arm of immigration law can punish and destroy, and the risk precarious status and ruinous consequences. Why do they come here? The old man, for comfort and work. The young rebel woman, to avoid imprisonment for guerrilla activities. The aging prostitute, to escape the emotional emptiness of widowhood and economic want, an act of self-obliteration. But do I even remember these details clearly after two weeks?

5. Link. Metacritic Review Summary. Score of 84 based on 20 reviews - that's an 'A' grade - I'd probably give it an 'A-' or even a 'B+,' which is still a solid recommendation to see it.

Here's the cast relaxing, in their normal clothes...

and here's the trailer for 'Edge of Heaven...'

Cartoon du Jour:

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