The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand, 2003). I have said many times that I don’t like cheap emotional appeals in movies. I don’t have a problem with crying at the movies ... hell, I cry every time I watch “Cheek to Cheek” by Fred and Ginger in Top Hat. But I want my emotions to be touched in, for lack of a better term, an honest way. There are many ways to make an audience cry, but most of them are cheap ... kill a dog, the crowd will sob. I resent being forced to cry. The Barbarian Invasions is far too subtle to fall victim to my complaints. While it deals with the last days of a man dying of cancer, it’s largely an uplifting movie. At the end, when he says his last goodbyes, our tears come honestly, after we have gotten to know the man and his companions. But there is something far too easy about this movie. It’s like a fantasy of how to die. Cancer’s an awful way to go, but the man’s son has money, so he arranges for his dad to get heroin (because it’s the best pain killer), and his dad in thus in less pain than he might have been. Despite the heroin, he is coherent enough for most of the movie, which allows for many lovely scenes of him with his ex-wife and his ex-mistresses. These scenes essentially forgive the man for his past, and why not? But instead of really reflecting on how he might have hurt the people in his life, he sees his former lovers all together, getting on just fine, with everyone telling him they learned from him how to love life. The acting is fine, everything is fine, but Arcand knows his audience quite well, and as we watch the man “get away” with his flaws, we can feel absolved, too. #489 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century. 7/10.
Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955). 8/10.
Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967). 9/10.