June's the month of graduations. Yesterday I went to see my little brother, all grown up and looking mighty dashing in his suit, receive his high school diploma. And tonight, I went to see three graduation films from the Dutch Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam.

The first, "Bomber", was set in a near-future dystopic version of the Netherlands and revolved around a group of graffiti-spraying friends who don't quite know how to deal with the war. Is merely making impressive "pieces" enough if their efforts are so easily effaced by a waterhose? I liked the atmosphere - quite similar to fellow angry-young-people-in-the-suburbs film "La Haine"-, the moment where they erupt in (rap) song is well done, and the ending took me by surprise, but unfortunately the main character lost his believability as soon as he opened his mouth, and the dialogue was far from stellar.

Then came the film my dad and I really came to see, "Gödel", about the eponymous mathematician. It didn't disappoint. You could say it's about the last period of his life, when he was so paranoid he was starving himself to death, but that would be an incomplete statement. It's also about the distinction between reality and delusion, about where the film ends and the filmmaking begins. Gödel changes his mind about which part of what he sees is real, which part is not, the set collapses around in and at some point the director comes in to discuss with two critics what the ending should be. It's too pretentious by half, artificial and even glib, but you know me, I rather enjoy pretentious and glib (see also: my idolatry of Dave Eggers), and despite all the gimmicry, the film ends on a perfect note.

Finally, the third film, and unfortunately by far the least interesting of the three. The title (translated by yours truly) is "Daddy is gone...and I still had something to ask", and the documentary is precisly what you'd expect from such title, except maybe twice as long. There is really nothing remotely original or even simply visually inventive about this one. I'll admit part of my disinterest might come from my general feeling of "meh" when it comes to ego-documents, but really. Compare this for example to "Four Eyed Monsters", a recent debut film that's still available in its entirety on youtube. It's also an ego-document, but it's embellished by so many visual flourishes, so many little details that surprise you, that's it's interesting much beyond its cliched quirky boy-meets-girl story. This film however apparently thought an opening and closing shot of an ant hill and some jumping back and forth in time would be enough to make the story interesting. Unfortunately, it is not, especially not when every fact and feeling is rehashed at least twice.

All-in-all, it was a wondeful to celebrate that...my summer break has started! I did my last exam today, and I could not feel more relieved, despite, as expected, failing one course. I met my dad in Amsterdam, we had some ridiculously overpriced but delicious sushi and went to these movies, with one of the most generous audiences I've even seen a movie with. Afterwards we walked to the station, over the wallen (we saw a "de majoor is thuis" banner), saw an amazing double rainbow, and well, these are all irrelevant details but it comes down to: I had a great time, and I can already feel myself relaxing. You can expect a definite uptick in posting frequency from now on!

1 comment:

cjKennedy said...

I wonder if there is any chance Gödel will play in the US. It sounds kind of fruity but interesting. I read a book in college called Gödel, Escher, Bach though I have to admit I was more interested in Escher and Bach and frankly, most of it went right over my head. Luckily though it allows me to drop Gödel, Escher, Bach references like I know what I'm talking about. Don't be fooled.