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The Girl in the Cafe

Monday 07 July 2008 at 11:25 am The Girl in the CafeI guess everyone has at some point of their life seen a movie that they'veloved so much they would have wanted to share it with the rest of the world. For me that happened with Christiane F, and I ended up forcing various friends to watch it. However, I never came up with anything as ingenious as Ingrid who saw The Girl in the Cafe, fell in love with it, and sent the DVD on a tour around the world, hoping to gain the film as many viewers as possible. The concept is so awesome that it makes me kick myself for not thinking of it. The rules of the project are simple; you sign up, and when you recive the DVD you watch it, review it on your blog, and send it off to the next person. I went and signed up for it a couple of months ago, and the Girl did finally reach me last week.

The Girl in the Cafe is a romantic comedy with a serious message; every three seconds someone, somewhere dies due to extreme poverty, and it is possible to change it all by making a definite decision and committing to it. The romance is that of between a disillusioned, middle-aged civil servant Lawrence (Bill Nighy), and a young Gina (Kelly Macdonald) whom by chance he happens to meet at a cafeteria, and much of the film takes place at a G8 meeting location in Iceland.

It would be easy to blame the movie for oversimplifying the serious issue of extreme poverty; the film states that the choice to do so is down to 8 men - the leaders of the 8 wealthiest world nations. However, the major point in this film is that hiding behind the web of excuses and standard, inflexible processes is simply not enough. I am keen to agree on this; by cutting through the red tape it is possible to achieve more than going by the routine, accepting defeat and inefficiency. A better life may not be as simple to achieve as the film portrays, but it isn't as impossible as we are led to believe, either.

While agreeing with the issue raised in The Girl in the Cafe, I also enjoyed it as a film. The characters and dialogue were interesting and perfectly executed by the talented cast; especially Bill Nighy gives a great performance. The atmosphere in the movie can certainly perceived as cold by some, but personally I found it expressive and realistic, not entirely unlike the style of Finland's beloved Aki Kaurismäki. The camera catches emotion expressed in gestures, looks, and the scarce, yet witty dialogue. The only disturbing issue I have is with the long speeches towards the end of the movie, which unnecessarily feel rehearsed, but I respect their necessity in delivering the principal message of the film.

The Girl in the Cafe doesn't show what happens in the end, but it leaves the viewer wishing all the best for Lawrence and Gina, and for the poor of the world.

More about the project over at thegirlinthecafe.com.

The Best Movies You've Never Seen

Thursday 03 July 2008 at 09:03 am Best Movies You've Never seenIngrid posted a list of new classic movies, as chosen by Entertainment Weekly. Discussion ensued, and of course the list was found inaccurate and hopelessly American-centric. The movies chosen seem to be almost exclusively Hollywood blockbusters.

Anyhow, this prompted me into choosing my list of brilliant, celebrated movies that are - for a reason or another - usually overlooked when creating top-100 lists.

1. Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo
A touching story of teenage heroinists in the '70s Berlin. Brilliant acting, direction, cinematography, music, everything. This is also possibly the scariest movie I've seen - and they say the book is even more so.

2. Down by Law
Probably the best movie by Jim Jarmusch. A story of three men escaping a prison, filmed with vision, precision, and flawless grace. Minimalistic in execution, enormous in impact. Perfect.

3. 4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile (4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
Set in the '80s Romania, "4, 3, 2" tells a gripping tale of two student girls and an illegal abortion. Strong acting and direction create impression that stays for good.

4. Człowiek z Marmuru & Człowiek z Żelaza (Man of Marble & Man of Steel)
Two movies by Andrzej Wajda set in the socialist era of Poland. The first film portrays the control the state had over human lives, and how nobody could be trusted. The second takes place during the Gdansk uprising, led by Lech Wałęsa. These two powerful movies are important historically, politically and cinematically.

5. La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher)
A story of a perversely strict piano teacher and her romantic student becomes a research of the meaning of love, and how it can be perceived so wrong. Vivid and strong.

6. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
An excellent adaptation of a superb novel. A story of hopeless love, romance and romanticism, and disconnection to life.

7. Pelísky (Cosy Dens)
A comedy of two neighbouring families living a socialist Czechoslovakian apartment block. A splendid, humorous take on life back then.

8. Salmer fra kjøkkenet (Kitchen Stories)
A deadpan comedy of a Swedish research of the kitchen routines of Norwegian single men, which grows into a warm story of friendship and the causes of loneliness.

9. Kauas pilvet karkaavat (Drifting Clouds)
A story of unemployment, love, and hope by Aki Kaurismäki. Dramatic, dry-witty, and positive film, in which less is more.

10. Die Große Stille (Into Great Silence)
Wow. An almost four hours long film about life of monks in the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the reclusive Carthusian Order in France. Hardly anything happens; the monks go on with their daily lives in perfect silence. Spiritual, meditative, interesting, and extremely beautiful-- like a prayer.

Still wasting time

Wednesday 02 July 2008 at 10:04 am Tower BlasterTower Blaster is a fun little logic game. You and your gang of little people compete against a gang of little vikings in building towers out of numbered blocks. The idea is to pile the blocks in a numerical order before the vikings manage to comete their own tower. The 8 levels provide enough fun for an hour or two.

DoublesixDoublesix games is a media developer that creates games and other media applications for several platforms. They have discovered an amazing way to showcase their talent: by putting a simple, yet addictive game on the front page of their website! This fun little shooter is both entertaining and fun, and it sure does show that these guys can create quality stuff.

Power PamplonaThe Chase / Power Pamplona is a game advertising Rexona for men, but it's also plenty of fun. The idea of the game is simple; run through the course before you get ran over. In the first level you're being chased by a bull in Spain. If you survive that, you get to choose from other destinations; for example in Germany you try to escape a crazed German Oktoberfest waitress carrying pints of beer, and in Switzerland you're snowboarding down a mountain. Fun!


via timo.herd.fi/video

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