Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Film #14: Atomised (15)

Released: 2006
Directed by: Oskar Roehler
Original title: Elementarteilchen (Elementary particles)

Of all the films I’ve watched since starting this blog, this is definitely one of my favourites. Based on the novel by Michel Houellebecq (which I haven't read, but definitely will), if Atomised is anything to go by, Philip Larkin was right on the money in his poem ‘This Be The Verse’. Every significant character – and even some who appear for just a few minutes – is infused with emotional or sexual dysfunction, and even when this is not signalled explicitly, its spectre lurks in the background.

Dumped with their respective grandparents and only introduced to one another in their early teens, half-brothers Bruno (Moritz Bleibtreu) and Michael (Christian Ulmen) have been emotionally scarred by their sexually liberated mother in very different ways. Michael has buried himself in scientific research – ironically focusing on artificial reproduction – and denied himself the opportunity to be happy. As for Bruno, he spends so much time fantasising about an unobtainable – indeed, non-existent – female sexuality that he risks losing both his family and his grip on reality. 

Chance encounters for the pair of them open the door to a very different and brighter future with women who understand them, but the odds are just too stacked for everyone to come out unscathed. Dramatic but not melodramatic, the film boasts great performances from all of the leads and some (mainly sexual) moments that made me gasp in disbelief. Christian Ulmen takes the more restrained, less showy role, while Moritz Bleibtreu gets his teeth into a character who starts off so frustrated he borders on sleazy and desperate, but ends the film so broken that all he can do is turn to psychiatric nurses who hold his hand and give him the affection he should have received from his mother as a young boy.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Some thoughts on finding foreign films

Thanks to the internet, it’s really quite easy these days to find out about foreign-language films and identify the ones that interest you. But how do you go about actually watching them? 

The fact is, many areas of the UK do not have cinemas that show foreign films on a regular basis. In most of the places I’ve lived, I’ve been lucky to have easy access to cinemas such as the Showroom in Sheffield and the Broadway in Nottingham. However, many people have to travel quite a way to watch anything other than the latest blockbusters (which I’m not disparaging, don’t get me wrong; I like a good superhero movie as much as the next person).

But if you love cinema and want to see films in languages other than English, you can normally find a way:

- I am eternally grateful to online rental and streaming services because without them, I’d be waiting for the occasional foreign film on BBC Four. One that I’ve been meaning to try out for a while is Curzon Home Cinema (thanks to Rachel Malcolm over at Francofille for the heads up!)

- Does your local university have a cinema? If so, they probably show a couple of films each week (generally a couple of months after their release), many of which may not have been shown at your local multiplex. Tickets tend to be slightly cheaper than normal cinemas and I often find that they offer a more pleasant atmosphere because the audience has made a real effort to seek out the film.

- Are there any film societies in your area? Do a quick search online and you never know what you might find! If you want to start a society, check out the British Federation of Film Societies, which has more than 750 titles available for booking, and also provides a map of societies already running around the country.

If you have any other suggestions, or examples from your neighbourhood, I'd love to hear them!