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Flash Movie Review: A Hidden Life

I WAS TAKEN ABACK BY HER harsh response to my comment. She said I was a horrible human being for saying such a thing. My only response was telling her time would change her mind. We were talking about an elderly relative who had to be moved into a nursing home; she was delving into Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. Part of our conversation had to do with the nursing home and some of its residents. There was always a medicinal, almost sour, odor that filled the hallways of the home. In the main dining room during a meal, there would be a mix of people eating together. For example, there was a woman who always came dressed up for dinner. Due to a stroke, she was not able to communicate verbally; she was only able to say one word which she repeated over and over. It appeared to me that she was not cognizant of her lack of verbal skills based on how often she would get angry at the residents sitting next to her, for not understanding what she was saying. There were several times where staff members had to remove her from the dining room because she was getting physically abusive. Another individual in the dining room was a man who had to be wheeled in then hand fed by an employee. As far as I could tell there was no reactions of any kind coming from this person; it seemed to me there was little brain function.      THE REASON WHY I MENTIONED A couple of the nursing home residents was my hope you would not judge me harshly when I tell you what I said to my relative that got her so angry. We were talking about the nursing home and my relative mentioned that this one was one of the better facilities she had visited before moving our relative into it. When I heard this, I told her that our relative would be better off dead then living out her life with no memories in such a place. At this point our relative did not know the people visiting her, had to wear an adult sized diaper and could not communicate. You should have seen my relative’s reaction when I made this comment; you would have thought I said I was going to break into the nursing home and suffocate our relative with a pillow. As word spread, other relatives had a similar reaction to me; but I did not retract my statement. I stuck to my belief as our relative’s well-being slowly descended into non-existence. Seeing what the main character was going through in this biographical romantic drama, reminded me how tough it is to stick to one’s beliefs when one is in the minority.      TENDING TO HIS FARM AND FAMILY was all Franz Jagmrstatter, played by August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds, Love in Thoughts), was interested in doing. His fellow townspeople did not think the same way as he did when troops began to arrive in town. With Valerie Pachner (The Ground Beneath my Feet, Bad Luck) as Fani Jagerstatter, Maria Simon (Portrait of a Married Couple, Good Bye Lenin!), as Resie Schwaninger, Karin Neuhauser (In the Fade, Emma’s Bliss) as Rosalia Jagerstatter and Tobias Moretti (The German Lesson, Brothers of the Wind) as Fr. Furthauer; this film written and directed by Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The New World) lasted 2 hours and 54 minutes. This was way too long to sit and watch this picture, despite the beautiful and lush scenes. I have experienced the same feelings seeing Terrence’s other movies; they go on and on with random scenes of water, sky, space as a way to move the audience. The fact is I was interested in the story, enjoyed the outdoor scenes and appreciated the acting; but when things get stretched out, I lose interest in the point the writer/director was trying to make. Those who enjoy Terrence’s work will enjoy this film and if I am in the minority so be it; I needed the film to end much earlier than it did.                                            

2 ½ stars    


Flash Movie Review: Senso

If it has not happened yet, count on your heart coming out victorious at least once in a wrestling match with your brain. Many of us have experienced that one relationship where we know it is not the best for our mental health (sometimes physical health), but our heart has already bought the ticket for the ride. I can remember being in a relationship where the good times overshadowed the uncomfortable moments. It felt like I was sitting outside and watching the most spectacular fireworks display, yet I was shivering from the cool night breezes. The explosions of color aka my heart, kept me seated even though the wind aka my brain, was telling me to go inside. It happens to all of us, but maybe not as dramatically as it did with the La Contessa Livia Serpieri. Played by Alida Valli (Eyes Without a Face, The Third Man), the Contessa Serpieri lived in Venice Italy during the mid 1800’s when the area was under Austrian occupation. Trying to help her resistance fighter cousin; she set up an introduction to meet Austrian Lieutenant Franz Mahler, played by Farley Granger (Rope, Strangers on a Train). The meeting would set in motion forces that would jeopardize family, friends and even the very existence of Venice. This historical drama was a lush, musical movie to watch. Filmed in 1954 there was a different sensibility back then, where the actors exuded a more physical display of emotions. It almost appeared as if they were overacting. Keeping that in mind, it made sense since the sets were so voluptuous and abundant. In addition, filling the musical soundtrack with pieces by Giuseppe Verdi and Anton Bruckner; I felt I was in the middle of a grand opera, set in the beautiful city of Venice. For some this movie may seem way over the top; but to me, it was obvious this film was made from the heart. Italian and German with English subtitles.


3 stars — DVD

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