“The choices you make in life decide the kind of person you are.”
– Need for Meat
Last year around this same time, we went to dinner at a friend’s house. There, we met a couple who talked about the Berlinale or The Berlin International Film Festival. It’s a 10- day event featuring about 400 international or European premieres. He told us how difficult it was to get tickets and how he managed to get tickets in between seeing patients. This year, I had no idea, but a week or so before the Berlinale tickets went up for sale, Odd made a list of 40 possible films we might want to see. That’s a lot of movies! Then on the day of the sale, he had 15 tabs open on his computer. As soon as the sale opened at 10 am, he clicked on “Buy Tickets” and was able to get tickets for three films on three different days. For those that asked, that’s how we did it, folks.
I wasn’t lucky to see them but big celebrities like Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Kirsten Dunst and Jude Law graced this year’s red carpet.Here’s the closest I’ll ever get to John Cusack.
Café Nagler is an Israeli documentary about a Jewish granddaughter’s mission to fulfill her grandmother’s wish. That is, to better understand her family’s legend (or so we think) at Café Nagler in 1920’s Berlin. I was genuinely surprised at how funny this movie was! Together with the audience, we chuckled with every twist and playful turn. At the end of the film, the cast, including the 80+ year old grandmother, Naomi Kaplansky, also a former documentary filmmaker, posed for pictures. The director, Mor Kaplansky, completed the screening by answering questions about the three and a half year process of making this film. A beautiful and amusing story of family not to be missed.
As new vegetarians, Odd thought it would be good for us to watch Need for Meat, a Dutch documentary by Merjin Frank, based on her indecision to eat or not to eat meat. Her cinematic choices are, for the lack of a better word, powerful. Her journey takes us through a six week training period in an abattoir that leads to her ultimate test. Will she find the courage to slaughter a cow? Marjin Frank also appeared at the end of the screening and admitted that some of the fantasies in the film were real dreams she had. That’s when the real questions arise. Snicker, snicker.Lost in a Dunkin’ DonutPhoto by Erik Molberg Hansen
On the last day of the festival, we watched a Swedish drama based on a literary classic by Hjalmar Söderberg, Den Allvarsamma Leken or The Serious Game. Although the film moved like molasses on a cold winter’s morning and the use of the handheld camera seemed an off beat choice for some scenes, the film felt much like an impressionist painting. Based in 1912 Stockholm, Arvid Stjärnblom (Sverrir Gudnason) and Lydia Stille (Karin Franz Körlof) become lost in a passionate extramarital love affair. Light piano notes play throughout the film, symbolizing the fragility of love. Tangled by turmoil and restlessness, they continue to turn to each other, attempting to answer age-old questions such as is anyone ever happy and does true love ever die?
I rather enjoyed the supporting performances by Dagmar (Liv Mjönes), wife of Arvid, Markel (Michael Nyqvist), editor-in-chief, and Lidner (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), foreign correspondent. A quiet, charming film directed by Pernilla August.
If you’re unable to see these films in your area, try Netflix for A Coffee in Berlin. A handsome Tom Schilling stars in this award winning German dramedy set in a melancholy black and white with jazzy tunes reminiscent of Woody Allen films. He plays a college drop out who wanders the streets of Berlin. In his daze, he meets eclectic characters that lead him back to, as Prince likes to sing, “this thing called life”. Director and screen writer, Jan Ole Gerster, also squeezes a movie within the movie. How clever is that?
I love the way movies have the ability to transport us to different eras or regions of the globe. They push our curiosities beyond our wildest imagination or answer questions we didn’t even know we had. More importantly, movies are opportunities to change others and essentially, ourselves.What’s a good movie you’ve seen? Please leave a comment. If you’re shy, it’s okay just leave a title. I don’t mind. It’s a miserably cold February so recommended movies are a great distraction. Seriously. Where is Spring?