Long-Ass Movie Weekend

No, not a long weekend — a weekend spent watching long-ass movies. Both of them were very intense, carefully-crafed character studies of people under stress.
Friday night I put on my black turtleneck and my beret and we went to the art-house cinema to see The Lives of Others, the German movie that just won the Best Foreign Lang. Oscar. It clocked in at two hours, seventeen minutes. Lives is about a group of people living in 1980′s East Berlin; a playwright, his actress girlfriend, and a Stasi officer who has the job of monitoring their bugged apartment. It’s also about the ways that people affect each other through their actions, interconnectivity, and the compromises we make to get along. It’s deep, people. :)

I don’t want to give the story away, but basically the Stasi officer in question starts out a faithful servant of his State. But by becoming wrapped up in the life of the playwright, and through some things he learns about his superiors along the way, he becomes disillusioned. He starts taking risks on his job and doing things to hinder the investigation into the playwright. The playwright, meanwhile, has no idea that he is being watched, or about his secret benefactor. A neat, taught little suspense story is the result.

Lives of Others was really good and engrossing. I especially liked the lead actor playing the Stasi; he played his character as a grey little man in a grey world. His acting was so underplayed, that really the only changes you saw in him happened in his eyes.

My only problems with it were: 1. The pacing. It was fine for the first 3/4 of the movie, but just got mangled at the end. It started to feel like Return of the King, with 15 endings. Every time you thought it had ended, words would pop up on screen “X years later”, and it would keep going. I appreciate that maybe the director wanted to give us closure, but damn, we don’t need THAT much. A little ambiguity is ok, man! 2. Although I knew that the Stasi “goes over” to the side of the playwright, I never really got a clear sense of when that happened, or what exactly pushed him over the edge. I don’t know if that was the film’s fault, or if my senses are just too deadened by American movies that I missed some subtlety somewhere. But either way, it left me with a big question mark at the end.

Regardless, Lives of Others is Quality Filmmaking and you should see it. If you like politics, espionage, or Germans, all the better.

The other long-ass movie I saw this weekend was Zodiac, but I will save that for tomorrow.

One Response to “Long-Ass Movie Weekend”

  1. hapnor Says:

    *excitingly putting Lives of Others in Netflix queue*

    Ooooh I am seeing Zodiac on Thursday! I am really eager to see it, hopefully it doesn’t suck!

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