The Rear-View Mirror: CSI Crime Scene Investigation (2000)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Today, my dearly beloveds, let’s talk about guilty pleasures. I know you have them because I have them. In a way, it’s the emotional continuation of reading under the covers when you’re a kid, flashlight in hand, way until after midnight. And already I’ve talked myself into a corner because now I have to reveal one of my guilty pleasures while you can keep silent about yours. Here goes, then: one of my guilty pleasures was, and still is, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the original one set in Las Vegas. Would you believe that it ran from 2000 to 2015? Its finale is only three years old. And yes, I watched every single sodding episode, until the bitter, bitter end. It wasn’t easy. I’m not proud of it. The guilt had outweighed the pleasure years ago. Continue reading

Indignation, Inflammation, Consternation

The maddening thing with most of Michael Moore’s documentaries is that at some point, he hurts his own line of argument, whether it’s an unnecessary digression or a small mistake. Moore’s oeuvre is certainly not there for comfort viewing, but I always feel restless watching something new of his because he seems to veer off at some point into the undergrowth. Remember how he quoted wrongly from the hull of a Lockheed bomber plane in Fahrenheit 9/11? He starts to build up his argument with footage, witness accounts and pictures that seem too good to be true, and then he commits a blunder that makes the movie lose steam – not all of it, but the story he wants to tell gets weaker, and the movie has a hard time recovering from it. Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: City of God (2002)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

The first scene of Fernando Meirelles’ and Katia Lund’s City of God starts with a chicken trying to escape the frying pan, and it ends with the standoff between two warring drug gangs in Brazil’s Cidade de Deus, the poorest quarter of Rio, where the politicians put the lowest classes in the Sixties so the rich wouldn’t have to look at them. Cidade de Deus doesn’t have electricity nor water, and it’s almost impossible to get out, not geographically, but socially: if you are born there, you will most likely die there.

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My God, it’s Full of Stars

We have been to the edge of the cinematic universe together more than once, haven’t we? We have pinched shut our noses against the stench and filth of Aleksey German’s Hard to be a God with its very own weird cinematic language and drab medieval sci-fi outlook on life. We have waded through the seven-hour long Satantango, Bela Tarr’s masterpiece, puzzled by the fact that we didn’t know what the hell was going on. Both movies might take huge liberties in storytelling: they seem to redefine or even abuse the notions we have of plot, story, or dialogue. German’s movies pretend that they have never heard of a reaction shot.  There are whole takes that seem to go against anything that we seem to have learned about cinematic grammar, but no matter how shrewd or outlandish those movies might get, they still are – movies. Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Primer (2004)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

I had been sightseeing on foot all day, Nairn’s London in hand, my legs hurt, and I just wanted to sit down and get my bearings back. There was a small movie theatre off Leicester Square, showing a movie I had never heard of. The title was Primer, and the poster showed some kind of cube-shaped contraption with cables coming out, or going in. I couldn’t resist and bought a ticket. It was a very strange movie. There were three, four white-collar guys who had invented a machine that did something technical, and they were sending out free hardware parts in order to get their project financed. It was hard to follow the movie because they talked like real people talked, and there were no subtitles. Continue reading

So Much Water So Close To Home

Rike (Susanne Wolff) is the medic of a German first-response team. She makes rational decisions within seconds, deciding over life and death of a car crash victim. She is good at her job. Firemen, policemen and civilians follow her orders while she deals with the dead and severely injured. She has seen a lot of human drama, so when she takes a holiday, it’s not surprising that she wants to go sailing on her own. Her destination is Ascension Island, right in the middle of the Atlantic, between Brasil and Angola. We see her load her sailboat, the Ava Gray, and start out from Gibraltar. She has radio contact with coast guards and other ships, she weathers a storm, she enjoys the journey, she likes the solitude, and then she encounters a boat overloaded with refugees. Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: The Road (2006)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

It’s utterly puzzling to me that Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road was published only in 2006. It feels older. Sometimes you open a novel and you can sort of guess the decade, at least roughly. I had read The Road twice until I realised it was not from the 1980s, but only six or seven years old. Maybe that’s because it tells such a timeless story. Of course, an apocalypse where everything is covered in grey ash and food, and shelter and friendly people are in short supply can take place anytime. Or maybe my mistake was that I didn’t know that its author was an octagenarian. Continue reading