Here’s how we spent yesterday, in between guzzling. The links are to the movies’ IMDB pages.
Kokuhaku (2010; vt Confessions)
I read Kanae Minato’s source novel a while back, and for the most part enjoyed it a lot. The screen version, which is beautifully made, cleared up the main minor quibbles I had on reading the novel. A teacher takes hideous revenge on the two little psychos among her students who killed her daughter. This isn’t a movie for the impatient; it treats its material with respect, stripping away masking layers in carefully measured fashion to reveal cruel truths. I loved it, and plan to cover it in more detail on this site sometime soon. Even so, we very much needed the next movie as a counterbalance:
Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953; vt M. Hulot’s Holiday)
A perennial favorite in this household. I hadn’t realized until I was fetching the IMDB url just now that this is one of only two screen credits for Nathalie Pascaud, who plays the beautiful Martine to whom M. Hulot—like every other male in sight—loses his heart, nor that the Englishwoman was in fact played by a French actress, Valentine Camax.
La Guerre des Tuques (1984; vt The Dog Who Stopped the War)
Reminiscent of The Goonies (which it in fact preceded), this was a lot of fun, with an underlying pacifist message that wasn’t too labored. In a small Canadian town, two sets of kids wage a snowball war during the Christmas break. There’s a really interesting review of the English-dubbed version here. We watched the Quebecois version with subtitles; a couple of the reviewer’s problems with the acting are clearly artifacts of the dub.
The Wind Cannot Read (1958)
Dirk Bogarde and Yôko Tani star in a weepie romance about a young English intelligence officer stationed in India during WWII who falls in love with a Japanese teacher. If this sounds a bit The World of Suzie Wong (1960) to you then it’s no major coincidence: both movies were based on novels by Richard Mason. I read the novel in my teens, and loved it. I last watched the movie a few years before that—I think my mum didn’t realize quite what the movie was about when she took me to see it—and most of it went over my head. (The movie’s quite cleverly made in that respect. For example, in a couple of places the leads have a conversation that to an adult is immediately recognizable as post-coital or even inter-coital, but, because the characters are fully clad, to a child is just another conversation.) Watching the movie again yesterday after all these years was like renewing a friendship.