Spring is finally arriving here in the Southern Hemisphere, and hopefully with it the end of flu season. For those followers in the Northern Hemisphere I have some wize advice for you as you head into the cold dark depths of Winter, as learnt from my own experience. Here I have compiled a list of three films that I watched while under the foggy influence of a particularly bad cold, and deeply regret. Here are three films not to watch in the middle of Winter when you are unwell (but at any other time proceed with caution).
This is a very beautiful film. In so far as a film with a colour scheme of almost entirely grey can be. The cinematography is visually stunning and the landscapes haunting. Whilst rugged up and snuffling on my couch I took a glance outside at my own grey landscape and felt a great sympathy with the man and his son as they trudged along the desolate road heading for hopefully more liveable climes near the sea. The Road is a simple story told with elegance: disaster has struck and the world has been left virtually uninhabitable. The few survivors must turn to scavenging or hunting for food. Only there aren’t any plants to scavenge, and there aren’t any animals to hunt… A man and his son walk along the road heading south, living off what leftover food they can find in houses along the way, and avoiding the gangs of cannibals who would do anything to get to the slight remaining flesh on their bones. It is a moral tale as well as one of survival. The man tells his son that they are the good guys and they must continue as they “carry the light” but as things get more desperate we must ask, how far is too far to go to protect yourself? What is acceptable as a last ditch attempt to live? This is not an action film, it is more meditative and ponders the nature of humanity, our bonds with each other, and our incredible will to survive against all odds. Not to say that it doesn’t have tense moments of action, enough to throw you into a coughing fit! I don’t like spoilers, but this is not a movie that can be expected to end entirely happily. Even while attempting to tell myself that this film should make me feel better about being unwell, I must be grateful that I at least there is an end in sight for our Winter, the dark mood and unpleasant portrait of humanity cannot help but drag one’s emotions further down into gloom. Save this one for a Spring evening when there is hope in sight.
The Act of Killing
I feel like there is a bit of a theme here. This is also a film that asks many moral questions, this time about war, freedom and forgiveness. The Act of Killing is a critically acclaimed inventive documentary which not only interviews it’s subjects but tasks them to create their own film, a recreation of their part in the genocide of almost a million people in Indonesia from 1965-66. As gangsters who joined the Death Squad they carried out the torture and killings of so called Communists during this time, killings that were supported by the US. At the beginning of the documentary the men interviewed are happy, even proud, to tell their stories of murder which was often performed brutally and first hand. As they select actors to perform in the re-enactments you get the sense that the fear that these men inspire is not dead yet. As the film-making progresses the men are forced to look at their actions from a new perspective and re-evaluate their own moral stand on what they have done. While some continue to justify their actions, admitting that they could not cope with the alternative, others come face to face with the true horror of their actions. What makes this a particularly difficult film to watch is the likeability of the killers. We sympathise with them as they embark on their film-making and their moral quest into their own gruesome pasts. The film they make is surreal, celebratory and disturbing, with their victims thanking them and upholding them for sending them to Heaven. We must question the conditions and morality of war and who is truly to blame. Were they simply following orders or is their sadistic pleasure in the killings either a reason to condemn them or just a human reaction to the de-humanising nature of combat and power? Despite the evil that these men have inflicted, we must realise that it was the powers above that directed them that must truly hold the blame, the US and UK included. We cannot see the world in black and white, there are always shades of grey. Is it punishment enough that they must now live with the ghosts of the people they killed? All this moral confusion is enough to make any headache worse. Save this one for a day when your head is clear and so is the sky.
This is another award winning documentary about the potential horror that human beings can inflict, this time not just on each other but on our flippered friends. This film is not likely to give you a headache mulling over the moral aspects, here our moral compass knows exactly which way to point. The film-makers have a very definite objective: to create awareness of the killing of dolphins in Japan, the potential harm to humanity as well as the environment that this creates, and an impetus for action. The film follows a group of activists lead by former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, of Flipper fame. The team head to Taiji Wakayama, Japan where from the outside it would seem the people are devoted to whales and dolphins but in reality there is a secret cove where mass murders of these beautiful and intelligent animals take place. As the activists work to secretly capture footage of the slaughter we learn of the governments justification for whaling, the reasons behind the killings, and the incredible risk of mercury poisoning that is created by eating dolphin meat. It seems incredible that the fisherman would lure so many dolphins in, on the pretext of collecting a few to sell to institutions such as Sea World, and then brutally murdering the rest to sell for pittance as food, food which is poisonous to humans no less. The idea that this is justifiable because the dolphins compete with fisherman for fish seems equally inconceivable. The rage that I felt while enduring this film was only overcome by grief when finally they manage to get some hidden cameras into the cove and reveal the extent of the violence. When one already has a rather stuffy nose it is not advisable to cry profusely, but cry I did. I would save this one for a day when you are feeling brave and need a call to action.
To learn what you can do to help visit the website: http://www.thecovemovie.com/