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.
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.