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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Laila's Birthday

Nov 5: Laila's Birthday 2008, Palestine, Tunisia, Netherlands, Rashid Masharawi director.


In this dark, urban comedy Ubu Laila, a dignified unemployed judge, is an enormously overqualified taxi driver. As he sets out to work in the morning, his wife reminds him to buy a present and a cake for their daughter's seventh birthday. The request sounds simple enough but in Ramallah -- where the chaos, frustrations and absurdities of life are magnified by the Israeli occupation, by checkpoints on land, helicopters overhead, the occasional bomb and demented donkey -- none of the ordinary rituals of life are easy.


Missed this one. It was a dark and stormy night. Stayed home by the fiireplace and gave the new film website Mubi.com a try. Good, informative database. Good background info and cross referencing. Focus on "art" films. Some for streaming. Some free, shorts for $1, full length features for $3. Cable to the tv and a couple of computer speakers hooked up and it's full screen with half decent sound.
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Introduction to French director Agnès Varga and her 1985 film Vagabond. Varga has directed nearly 50 films and co-wrote the Last Tango in Paris screenplay. 


A lost soul wanders the South of France in winter. Used and abused and maybe the cruelest twist of fate: she's her own worst enemy. "That's not wandering, that's withering," says the back to the land goat herder who tries to help her. Terrific performance by Sandrine Bonnaire -- Best Actress César 1986. Very fine. Eager to see another Varga.