Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Starring: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, Robert Ryan

In general, I don’t like Westerns, but Peckinpah?  Peckinpah is a whole other ball of wax.  My first introduction to Peckinpah was Monty Python’s “Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Salad Days,’” which still remains one of my favorite MP sketches, and it’s become even funnier since I’ve partaken of Peckinpah’s filmography.  With a reputation, rightly earned, for violence and cynicism, Peckinpah’s vision of the West differs vastly from that of, say, classic western director Ford.  The Wild Bunch is Peckinpah through and through, with plenty of stylistically innovative violence and themes running deep with betrayal and pessimism.

Telling a fairly standard story of outlaws looking for one more score, we follow Pike Bishop (Holden), an aging outlaw who wants to retire as the twentieth century dawns in the American West.  With his colleague Dutch (Borgnine) at his side and old frenemy Thornton on his trail (Ryan), Pike gets entangled with Mexican bandit-turned-generalissimo Mapache (Emilio Fernandez) when they make a deal to steal some guns for him.  As the deal starts to go bad and tensions run high, we understand the bleakness of Peckinpah’s vision.

“It ain’t what it used to be, but it’ll do.”  This is the closing line of The Wild Bunch, and it succinctly sums up a major thematic element of much of Peckinpah’s work.  Weeping for a Wild West that had become far too idealized in previous films and television shows to have been real, Peckinpah seemed intent in his work to move that image forward.  In The Wild Bunch, he certainly does that, showing us a western landscape littered not with heroes and villains representing right and wrong, but characters who live somewhere along a spectrum of virtuosity.  Pike is our hero, for lack of a better term, but he opens the film by pretending to be a soldier in order to take part in a daylight raid of a bank in Texas, one that winds up killing many people.  And the phrase “Honor amongst thieves” only goes so far in Peckinpah’s world, for many of the thieves aren’t honorable in the least.  People get left behind or abandoned constantly.  The man hunting Pike is doing is only for bounty and he is surrounded by some of the most unlikeable and ruthless characters in the entire film; yet this man is on the “right” side of the law.  Generalissimo Mapache is the closest we get to a true villain in The Wild Bunch, but Pike, though wary, makes deals with him through most of the story, and Mapache himself seems less evil than a bit stupid and power-hungry.  In short, we don’t have any traditional white hats or black hats here, just people living by whatever code they happen to adopt, be it right or wrong or somewhere in between.  This ain’t yo’ granddaddy’s Western, that’s for sure.

Additionally, the issue of betrayal is constantly looming throughout the story.  Thornton seems continually haunted by the fact that he finds himself hunting his old friend Pike with men he can barely stomach.  Pike and his bunch hardly care in the slightest when their compatriot Angel’s village gets attacked by Mapache, threatening to leave him behind if he can’t get over it.  Pike’s old friend Sykes, who helps out in the gun heist, at one point himself gets abandoned by Pike and the rest because he was wounded.  No one’s actions in The Wild Bunch are beyond reproach; everyone, at some point, does something fairly shitty to someone else, betrays someone they shouldn’t, leaves someone behind whom they should have helped.  It’s a messy world, Peckinpah’s West.

This wonderfully ambiguous morality play is wrapped up in a remarkably innovative cinematic package.  This is, in its own gritty, dirty, disgusting way, a beautiful film.  Peckinpah stylishly blends slow motion, flashbacks, and quick cuts to present a film that is unexpected in its technique.  Watch Angel’s horse get lassoed – we cut between a slow motion shot of the horse falling to some quick-as-a-flash cuts to the men around him.  Just when the film feels a little too staid or predictable in its presentation, we get these fairly exciting shots.  The final bloodbath, famous for its violence, is a prime example of this, with slow motion bodies falling all over the place, graceful in their disfigurement.  

The general attitude of the film is resigned acceptance.  Pike’s final decision seems one not born of his sense of decency, but an unfulfilled death wish, grim in his determination to see this thing through to the end.  Everyone around him seems to know it as well, which is why when men start laughing as they are about to face certain doom, it all seems right, somehow.  The Wild Bunch is grim and bleak, maybe, but never stifling or depressing.  There are just enough light moments sprinkled throughout to make the dark moments bearable. 

The cast of The Wild Bunch is strong all around.  William Holden, aging out of Classic Hollywood, plays against classic Western types here and does it well, as does Ernest Borgnine.  But for my money, it was Warren Oates as sidekick Lyle and Robert Ryan as Thornton who really steal the show.  Oates is an actor who, after not being able to get his Bennie from Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia out of my mind for at least a week, I can’t tear my eyes away from.  If he’s in a scene, my eyes are on him.  If he’s onscreen, I don’t care what else is going on, I’m watching him.  His charisma and intensity and oddball humor live alongside a sense of sadness and inevitably which Peckinpah must have adored.  Similarly, Ryan’s defeated Thornton is probably my favorite character from the film as we watch him almost sadly track down Pike.  It’s never certain where Thornton really stands, and that’s mostly due to Ryan’s performance, keeping the character just a shade unknowable.  If I could change one thing about The Wild Bunch (although really, why would I want to mess with a classic?), it would probably be to do more with the Thornton/Pike angle. 

It’s movies like The Wild Bunch that made me realize that there are always exceptions to the rule.  While it hasn’t changed my mind about Westerns as a whole, I willingly make an exception for it.

Arbitrary Rating: 8/10

Friday, June 28, 2013

Galaxy Quest

Off Book: Galaxy Quest
Director: Dean Parisot
Starring: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Enrico Colantoni

This looked liked the stupidest movie in the world when it came out.  It looked like a crappy parody of Star Trek.  ‘From the people who brought you Scary Movie 4 and Date Movie comes Galaxy Quest for all your mindless idiotic juvenile humor needs!’  Blech.  Who wants to see that?  Not me.  Then, about a year later, my parents and my sister, all intelligent people whose opinions I trust, informed me that I MUST see this movie.  I scoffed.  My husband scoffed.  My family chained me down in front of a television and made me watch it.

And then I laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed some more.

Holy crap, this movie is funny!  Not only is it funny, but it’s good!  Legitimately good!

As the movie opens, we learn that Galaxy Quest was a science-fiction TV show set in space that has long since stopped filming.  Its actors, however, cannot escape the enormous cult following the series has gained, and as such, they are stuck perpetually in their TV roles, going from convention to convention… until a group of aliens approach them about helping them fend off an attack from the evil alien Saris.  Turns out, these aliens saw the show in space and thought it was real.  Given the crew’s ability to solve any problem and defeat any enemy in the original series, the aliens figure that the crew of the Intrepid is the only group capable of dealing with their perilous threat.  Soon, the hapless washed up actors find themselves being asked to really pilot a spacecraft, to really defeat aliens, to really solve complicated technical problems, and to really save the day!

What might at first sound like a blundering parody of the pop culture phenomenon that is Star Trek is really an enormously loving homage.  This is not parody; parody is vulgar and crass, with jokes coming at the expense of story and characters.  Think Spaceballs.  Spaceballs is parody.  But homage respects and reveres its source material, sending it up lightly without being mean or vicious.

If you’ve ever seen any episode of Star Trek in any incarnation, any of the Star Trek movies, or even just have a basic idea of what Star Trek is about, you will enjoy this film.  Speaking as someone who has seen every single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation multiple times, this movie gets it right.  Galaxy Quest, the TV show, IS Star Trek.  Moreover, I fully believe that it’s most meant to resemble The Next Generation, with one notable exception.  Tim Allen’s character, Jason Nesmith, played Commander Peter Quincy Taggert, a brash, chest-thumping commander who is a thinly veiled alter-ego of Captain Kirk.  After initially seeing the film, George Takei remarked that Allen had gotten William Shatner’s swagger down pat.  

There is so much classic Star Trek in this movie.  The basic spaceship design and the jumpsuit uniforms are the fundamentals, but true fans will get a kick out of more subtle details.  Dr. Lazarus (Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane), who is CLEARLY supposed to be Lt. Worf, has to eat horrid Kep-mok blood ticks that aren’t yet dead.  WORF DID THAT ALL THE TIME.  The “away mission” down to the rock planet to retrieve a replacement beryllium sphere, with the tricorder programmed with the location, the small blue baby aliens, and the fight with the pig-lizard and then rock monster, could be straight from any Star Trek episode – save for the washed up actors not knowing what to do on the mission.  Saris’ ship was clearly modeled on the Romulan vessels.  The fancy metallic casts for broken arms and legs are incredibly familiar.  The ship has to separate at the end of the film, something that was seen in a handful of Star Trek episodes.  Jason Nesmith and Gwen Demarco (Weaver, terrifically funny playing the polar opposite sci-fi heroine from her strong, empowered, courageous Ripley role) end up in the ducts of the Intrepid in order to evade enemy capture and save the day.  Given that all of these wonderful references and settings are couched in the conceit that the people in this situation have absolutely no idea how to handle themselves in space is even more delightful.

Galaxy Quest is hands down one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.  It’s that rarest of all comedies, a comedy that actually improves with successive viewings.  Most comedies run out of ammo after the first viewing.  The good ones last another five to ten screenings before running out of steam.  The great ones last forever and seem to actually get funnier the more often they’re viewed.  Galaxy Quest more than meets this last description, and what’s more, it manages to be funny without any sex, violence, or cursing.  Actually, the movie was originally filmed with a handful of swear words which were removed in ADR.  The most notable instance is one scene where Sigourney Weaver says, “Well screw that!” but her mouth does not match, mouthing instead the big f-bomb.  It’s actually refreshing to find a comedy that decided cursing was unnecessary.  Somehow, it didn’t need the swearing to be funny, a concept I wish more modern comedies would embrace.

Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane as Dr. Lazarus absolutely slays me.  Alexander Dane is a tortured British actor who used to do Shakespeare.  Now he does conventions in a silly alien headpiece.  The pain that is written all over his face when he is forced to say his character’s signature line (“By Grabthar’s hammer, you shall be avenged!”) is hysterical, not least of which when he has to say it at the opening of an electronics store.  Easily in my top five favorite lines of the film is Rickman’s drawn out and deadened delivery of “By Grabthar’s hammer… *long pause*… what a savings.”  He is so pained by having to say those words, I descend into a fit of the giggles every damn time.  On the blu-ray extras, Rickman admits to having trouble getting out that line because he kept laughing so much.

Speaking of favorite lines, this movie has them in spades.  Sam Rockwell gets to deliver most of them as Guy, an actor who played Crewman No. 6 and was killed before the first commercial break in episode 81 of Galaxy Quest.  He is the only one of the actors who ever watched the show with regularity, and as such, is much more aware of the peril of their situation than the others seem to be.  He knows the rules of Galaxy Quest, as it were, so when he says, “There’s a red… thingie… moving towards the green… thingie.  I think we’re the green thingie!” you’re dying with laughter.  Or on the away mission when the pod door opens, “Is there air?  You don’t know!”  Or better yet, “Look around you, can you construct a rudimentary lathe?”  Or even better, when all the other crew members want to cuddle the cute-as-a-button blue baby aliens on the away mission, “Sure they’re cute now, but in a second they’re gonna get mean, and they’re gonna get ugly somehow, and there’s gonna be a million more of them…. Did you guys ever WATCH the show?!?”  To which Gwen eventually responds, “Let’s get out of here before one of those things kills Guy!”

Oh god, and Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan as Tech Sgt Chen is HYSTERICAL.

I recently had the unbelievable pleasure of watching Galaxy Quest at the Dryden (the capstone of their “To the Moon in June” series).  I chatted a bit with the head programmer right before the movie started, and she was shocked at just how many people were there.  While certainly not full, the theater was very busy for a Wednesday night show; Galaxy Quest was a much larger draw than they had anticipated.  And then as soon as the movie started, the laughter started.  The whole audience, self included, was in stitches in every scene save for the two serious ones.  Every SINGLE scene, and nearly every single line got a laugh.  I missed some of my favorite jokes because people were laughing so hard.  Heck, Guy’s “rudimentary lathe” line actually got extended applause, as did the film when the end credits rolled.  I was hoping that the audience at the Dryden would be as appreciative of this film as I am; needless to say, my expectations were more than met.

Really, trying to explain just how funny I find this film is an exercise in futility.  It makes me laugh every single time.  It is reverent of Star Trek and manages to send it up at the same time.  It’s a feel-good movie too, watching as the actors overcome their inabilities to actually outwit and defeat the tyrannical Saris (named after a film critic!).  If it’s been a long week, if I really need a chuckle, Galaxy Quest is guaranteed to lift my spirits and bust my gut with laughter.

Arbitrary Rating: 10/10

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three Colors Trilogy - Blue, White, Red

The Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red – Happy Birthday, Krzysztof Kieslowski!
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Starring: Blue: Juliette Binoche, Benoît Régent White: Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy Red: Irène Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jean-Pierre Lorit

At the end of his career (and life), Kieslowski made this trilogy of films that are nominally (and only nominally) focused on the themes represented by the three colors in the French flag: Blue for Liberty, White for Equality, and Red for Fraternity.  Having made the highly successful Decalogue film/mini-series (ten separate “episodes” about residents of an apartment complex, each episode dealing with one of the Ten Commandments), it is easy to see why Kieslowski was similarly drawn to a series of films linked in concept.  These three films turned out to be his final work, as he died two years after filming Red.  What a testament to leave to the world of cinema.

In Blue, the first of the three films, Juliette Binoche (in a stellar performance) plays Julie Vignon, a woman who has recently lost her husband, a composer, and young daughter in a car accident.  She deals with this tragedy by attempting to shut herself off from the world.  She sells their house, their possessions, everything – she wants no reminders of her once happy life.  She seems angry when vestiges of her former life try to creep back in.  The film is very much about her healing process after the tragedy.

In White, Zbigniew Zamachowski plays Karol Karol, a Polish hairdresser whose young wife Dominique (Julie Delpy) is divorcing him for failure to consummate their marriage.  She not only divorces him, but freezes his bank account and locks him out of their home and business.  He is left with less than nothing but his continued love for his ex-wife.  He retreats to Poland where he builds up a somewhat shady business empire, then stages an elaborate ruse in order to get revenge on his ex-wife for her bitter treatment.  The film is a dark comedy.

In Red, Irène Jacob plays Valentine, a young student and model in Geneva who, through a series of events, meets a retired judge (Trintignant) who is spying on his neighbors’ phone calls.  The two form an unlikely bond despite their age and gender gap.  Simultaneously, the film introduces us to Auguste (Lorit), a young man studying to become a judge who happens to live right across the street from Valentine.  The two do not know one another but are consistently shown just missing one another in their daily lives.  The film is (among other things) a romance about the possibility of a relationship between Valentine and Auguste.

It’s an interesting trilogy in that it is three tremendously separate stories, not connected by common actors, characters, or even genres.  One could easily watch a single film from the trilogy and enjoy it on its own, and never watch the other two.  The three films function completely as stand-alone films. However, there is most definitely a thread that ties all three films together, and it is the central theme of human connectedness and the concept of choices versus destiny. 

SPOILER ALERT:  While I typically avoid revealing spoilers, I have thought long and hard about this and have come to the conclusion that the points I want to make about Blue, White and Red hinge upon me discussing the endings of the films.  I don’t normally like to do this, but the way Kieslowski uses narrative is critical to me in understanding his viewpoint of the world around him.  I am terribly sorry to say, then, that if you are interested in actually watching these films, and holy cow, are these terrific films,  please skip the next section.

*************************************SPOILERY BITS******************************************

In the first two films, the main characters are desperately trying to sever connections with other people.  Julie in Blue is desperately angry at the world and responds by cutting herself off from it.  The “Liberty” of the Blue in the French flag is symbolized through Julie’s liberty – can she simply live?  Can she have liberty from her former, happy life, and reinvent herself as a single, lone person, dependent on no one?  Ultimately, the film says “No.” (And this is why I warn about spoilers.)  Julie ultimately lets people from her old life back into her world.  She takes up her husband’s compositions.  She allows herself to connect with other people.  She has spent the entirety of the film fighting this, but ultimately, she cannot disconnect herself from her life.  It is impossible.  Despite her choices, Destiny has other plans for her, and she must allow herself to feel and love again.

Karol in White is similarly trying to disconnect himself from his ex-wife, Dominique.  She has treated him so harshly, and has easily disconnected from him, but his overwhelming love for her (bordering on obsession) keeps him from forgetting her.  He wants revenge for her treatment, he wants his “Equality.”  The ruse he plays is harsh indeed – he fakes his own death, leaves her his shady business in his will, and then calls the cops on her, letting her take the fall for his illegal dealings.  She winds up in jail in Poland.  Karol, having effectively gotten his revenge, was then supposed to flee to Hong Kong and live out the rest of his life there, happy in the knowledge that he got her back; however, he cannot do that.  He cannot leave her.  He loves her.  He cannot disconnect from her, and stays in hiding in Poland, visiting the courtyard of her prison every day, gazing up at her barred windows.  Try as they might, Karol and Dominique are strongly connected to one another.  They were foolish to ever try to separate from one another.

In Red, the film is not so much about people attempting to sever connections, but rather, the formation of new ones and just how deep those new connections are.  Valentine and the old judge connect through what one can certainly call Fate – she runs over his dog, and thus goes to his house.  There she is horrified to discover he is calmly spying on his neighbors’ intimate phone conversations.  Despite all of this, she keeps coming back to his house, usually drawn by the dog in question (who lives – she didn’t seriously hurt her), and the subsequent long conversations between Valentine and the judge show her that he’s not a perverted old man, just a lonely old man.  They form an unlikely friendship, easily representing the “Fraternity” of Red in the French flag.  All the meanwhile, the film plays with the idea of the connection between Valentine and Auguste, the young judge-in-training across the street.  We are constantly shown them in the same frame, nearly missing each other.  These are two people who are almost connected to one another, but not quite.  Will Fate see fit to bring these two people together?  As Roger Ebert said in his review of the film, “What a nice couple these two people would make.”  

Additionally, not only is there the question about the connection between Valentine and Auguste, but also between Auguste and the old judge.  After all, Auguste is a judge in training, so they share an occupation.  Auguste and the old judge both dress similarly and both own dogs.  Kieslowski goes much further than that, however; things get really funny when the old judge starts telling Valentine stories of his youth, and wow, didn’t we see that exact same thing happen to Auguste about thirty minutes ago in the film?  We are in her shoes when Valentine asks the old judge, “Who are you?”  Are the old judge and Auguste one and the same person?  Is the old judge some sort of omnipotent soul, looking beyond his timeline into both his own past, and Auguste’s future?  Is the old judge reflecting on Valentine not as a new friend, but as a second chance at love, as the person that he missed meeting in his youth the first time around?  Is he trying to atone for his past blindness by bringing Valentine and Auguste together in this new lifetime?  Can he get Valentine and Auguste to actually meet one another when they seem to keep missing each other?  These questions are all incredibly tantalizing and, I may add, make Red my favorite of the three films. 

Something I truly loved about all three of these films, and what I hope to see more of when I delve further into Kieslowski’s catalogue, is his subversion of the concept of traditional film genres.  In Blue, a film most definitely representing tragedy and loss, we are not given the typical establishing shots of a happy family.  We never see the “before” Julie, the Julie prior to the accident.  We only know her after the accident.  We follow through her healing process, which is definitely intense and has moments of bleak sadness and long stretches of depression, but the film most definitely ends on an upper.  Julie has found a way to feel again.  It’s a tragedy that, well, isn’t.  Similarly in White, the comedy of the three, there are certainly a few moments of broad comedy and plenty of moments of dark comedy, but the film ends on a decidedly poignant and rather sad final note.  Karol has been unable to separate from Dominique.  We end the film by seeing Karol gazing up at Dominique in her cell with tears streaming down his face; not exactly a cheerful ending (although there is room for interpretation there).  And in Red, we are focusing on the “romance” between Valentine and Auguste, and yet they are both involved with other people.  They don’t even know the other exists.  They spend the entirety of the film separated from one another, only brought together in the final moments of the entire trilogy, and only brought together through an unspeakable tragedy.  They don’t have a “meet cute,” what you would expect after such a long, tantalizing buildup.  They have a “meet horrific,” which, by the way, we don’t actually SEE.  We simply see a news broadcast that shows the two of them together.  We know they have met.

**********************************END OF SPOILERY BITS***************************************

Ebert commented on this genre subversion, calling Blue the “anti-tragedy,” White the “anti-comedy,” and Red the “anti-romance.”  I don’t know if I completely agree with this.  I understand what Ebert is trying to say, but I don’t like his use of the prefix “anti-“ here.  “Anti-“ means “opposite of.”  An “anti-tragedy” would be the opposite of a tragedy, which, in simplistic genre terms, is a comedy.  Blue IS a tragedy.  A woman is grieving.  But it’s not a tragedy in the typical play-out of a tragedy.  White and Red are the exact same way – they are most certainly a comedy and a romance, respectively, but they do not follow the predetermined paths of comedies and romances.  Kieslowski is smart, so smart, he knows how to lead his audience down the primrose path and then take a hard left turn.  Honest to god, when I was watching these three films for the first time, had absolutely no idea where the films were going.  They kept me on my toes – and isn’t that a glorious thing? 

Kieslowski most definitely didn’t like giving the audience what it expected, and that was wonderfully refreshing.  For example, in Blue, Kieslowski repeatedly uses a fade to black.  We, as the audience, have been trained to understand that the fade to black represents the passage of time.  How disconcerting it is, therefore, to come back from his fade to black, only to find ourselves still in the exact same scene.  It as if the lights dimmed on the conversation, only to come up on it again.  The first time he does this, I was completely caught off guard.  By the end of the film, I loved it.  Kieslowski is using classic film language in a completely nontraditional manner.  He does this with editing and tone in Red.  When we first meet the old judge, the film is setting up everything around him to convince us that he is “evil” or “a bad man.”  We do not like him.  He is threatening.  Soon, the judge moves from threatening to romantically interested in Valentine – or is he?  Kieslowski keeps us guessing about his intentions, which is precisely the point.  Red is a romance unlike any other romance, but it is a romance nonetheless, and ditto for the other two films.  Kieslowski gives us a tragedy, a comedy, a romance, all done in a completely nontraditional manner.

There is a distinctly political angle to the three films as well.  Kieslowski was in favor of a unified Europe (much like we have today, but one which is currently in danger of collapsing in on itself).  His outward portrayal of such a Europe in Blue is a good 10 years before its time.  Similarly, in Red, he sets it in Switzerland but has characters in England and France, showing fluidity across borders.  Most notably, though, he shows his political hand in White, which is good, because White needs all the help it can get against the towering awesomeness of the other two films.  Poland was newly capitalist when White was made, no more than two years after the Iron Curtain had been lifted.  Karol’s relationship with Dominique can easily be viewed as allegorical, with Karol representing Poland and Dominique representing France.  Poland, finally making the switch to France’s ways, finds that France has abandoned it, and is suddenly broke and crippled in the process.  Man, if that isn’t a political statement, I don’t know what is.  Similarly, Karol viciously exploits capitalism in the film, making a buck off anything and buying nearly everything.  He swoops in on a business deal by pretending to be asleep in the back of a car.  He buys land out from under the nose of his boss in a rather slimy move, then sells it back to him at an enormous mark up.  Yes, Karol gets ahead in business this way, but he’s not really being nice about it.  And yet, that’s capitalism. 

The scores in the film are powerful.  Considering that music is a focal part of the plot in Blue, it makes sense that the music is correspondingly thrilling.  Highly reminiscent of Beethoven, yet updated for the twentieth century, Kieslowski uses it not only as background, but also as key plot points.  The music is deep, soulful, and haunting; everything you would expect to hear in a film about recovery from grief.  The score in White has two very distinct tones to it.  In the first part of the film, when Karol is being bullied by his wife, the tone is despondent – naturally.  The second he gets back to Poland, however, the tone drastically changes, to a plucky spritely tune, and it never changes back.  It’s emphasizes Karol’s commitment to his plans for revenge.  The score in Red gets increasingly tension-filled as the movie progresses yet always maintains a sense of optimism and hope, much like Valentine’s character.  I was reminded of Ravel’s Bolero, a piece which builds in complexity and power despite maintaining the same tempo and melody.  It was an apt comparison. 

There is so much more to say about these three films – the lighting (which is painfully beautiful), the color play (obvious, given the titles of the films, but really cool all the same), the meaning behind the few scenes that link the three films together, the concept of the god-like figure of the judge in Red, but really, I think you can, by now, discern my enthusiasm for the films.  I originally only borrowed Red from my local library.  I holed myself up in our bedroom one night and watched it.  When it ended, my jaw was on the floor, and I proceeded to immediately go downstairs and rant and rave to my husband about how amazing it was.  It was so amazing, in fact, that I wanted to watch it over again.  Immediately, that very night.  I can’t remember the last film I felt that way about; in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever had that strong a desire to immediately rewatch a film for the sheer joy of it.  The very next day I went out to the library again and borrowed Blue and White, and then watched the entire trilogy “in order.” 

These films were the first of Kieslowski I have ever seen, and I am beyond intrigued now.  His powerful sense of humanity, of interconnectedness, and of cautious optimism for the human race give these three films a soul I have rarely come across in cinema before.  I have not felt this enthusiastic over a new film or films in a very long time.  These are something special.  I cannot wait to see more of his films.

Arbitrary Ratings and final thoughts:
Blue: 10/10 – Binoche is mind-blowing in the best role I’ve yet seen her in.
White: 8/10 – My least favorite of the three, but comically poignant nonetheless and much stronger when its political parallels are considered.
Red: Can I give this an 11?  Wait, it’s my review, so I can?  Awesome.  11/10.  Beyond perfect.  Raises tantalizing questions about fate and destiny all the while being incredibly romantic.  I love it.  My new favorite film, and I don’t say that lightly.