Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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"Time Of The Wolf" may seem like the ideal premise for an auteur who is renowned for exploring the most unforgiving and bleak aspects of the human condition. Despite this, Haneke's unsteady use of time coupled with
underwhelming performances from much of the cast results in a film that never reaches the dramatic peaks we hope for.
When removing it's flaws "Time Of The Wolf" does manage to strip bare the entire essence of our society and it's values, evoking a beautiful yet stark portrait of human frailty and our violent instincts.
The film's nihilistic philosophy is appropriately subtle and it's ending is to be expected from the director (to the point of being predictable) and maybe if the character's were a little more interesting we would be left with an essential piece of filmmaking. Instead we have a long-winded, sometimes captivating mood piece that decides not to answer the impossible questions it asks.
Despite it's shaky final act and questionable use of music, director Lukas Moodysson is triumphant in his attempts at unforgiving social realism. The film's setting of a down-trodden, former Soviet union town and it's use of washed out greys are bleak enough, so when all goes horribly wrong for Lilja it's not surprising that it seems somewhat melodramatic. Regardless of it's flaws Lilja 4-Ever's savior is found in the performance of Oksana Akinshina, as an audience we cannot help but be drawn into her world completely and see what she sees (at some points, literally). Moodysson uses this as device for the audience to experience her suffering, though from the comfort of our armchairs, resulting in a somewhat bittersweet self-awareness, maybe this was his intention all along? With prominent themes of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, Lilja 4-Ever is mostly difficult viewing but there is redemption, maybe not the kind Lilja deserves but certainly the best we can expect from her situation. A film like this is important viewing for Western audiences, it's a small dose of reality, not sugar-coated although sometimes stylized and mostly honest.
One of Haneke's most underrated pieces, despite this '71 Fragments' is undeniably one of his greatest achievements. This film is unforgiving, confrontational and poetically mundane. The film's formula is that of repetition as form of insight into the gruelling daily activities of western civilisation. Haneke explores the random or perhaps the mediated with themes of class divide and racial tension amidst a turbulent backdrop of political unrest, which seems even more evident today as it did back then. Black frames intercut the titular '71 Fragments', there is no music, it is a cold meditation on the psychological damage caused by government control and social tension. Haneke asserts a degree of intelligence from the viewer, so for those who are prepared to think '71 Fragments Of A Chronology Of Chance' is rewarding and essential viewing.