VIFF 09: Day 12 10/13/2009
My Dog Tulip
Directed by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger
My Dog Tulip is a most unfortunate film. Clearly, the intentions behind it are modest and warm, but it is an, albeit minor, failure. Adapting a book of the same name, which chronicles the relationship between a man, Joe, and his bitch, Tulip; the film leans on the literary strength so heavily that it collapses. The animation is a little crude, and lacks the charm of something like The Triplets of Belleville or Persepolis. Christopher Plummer does an apt job of narrating the film but essentially this is an audiobook put to animation. It barely qualifies as a film. Dog lovers will find something to like, and I admire its unconventionality, but such compliments likely apply, and with more enthusiasm, to the source material.
The White Ribbon
Directed by Michael Haneke
The White Ribbon was my most anticipated film of VIFF. It did not disappoint. It is subtle and evasive, and will fly over the heads of some, but for those who rise up to its challenge it is nothing short of crushing. It radiates with quiet brilliance from beginning to end, and successfully works within a single, deceptive tone. The focus of the film does not lie in the plot, or even in the characters but in a contemplative mood of immense power. While on the surface it seems almost tranquil, below lurks horror. In fact, this may be the most terrifying film of the year.
Oddly, during the film, I was engaged, but never frightened. It is after I left the cinema that my hairs began to stand on end. This is a personal experience, but I will share it so as to cement the profoundness of this film; when I got home and contemplated the implications of The White Ribbon, I cried.
This is a film that will follow you home and haunt you, whether you like it or not.
During the movie I was reminded of Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr and Alfred Hitchcock. I was reminded of them each for different reasons, and not because anything in The White Ribbon was too similar to any of these masters of the cinema, but because it is on their level. It reaches the same contemplative hieghts as Bergman, the complete immersion of Tarkovsky, the atmospheric imagery of Tarr and both the ability to unease, and to control the audience like Hitchcock.
To discuss The White Ribbon thematically, I would have to spoil its most unpleasant surprises, so I will refrain from doing so. However, I will discuss it thematically when I eventually add it to my "Masterpieces" section, something it is more than worthy of being a part of.
posted by adam cook