Last week I drove out to some friends’ vacation home for a few days of study, reflection and prayer. It was a restful and productive time despite missing Maggie and Eliot. The number of films I’ve seen this year has dropped off since we welcomed Eliot in April so during this time away I enjoyed watching three excellent films that had been on my “to see” list.
The Band’s Visit is the most humorous of the three and tells the story of an Egyptian police band’s unplanned encounter with the residents of a small Israeli settlement. The director, Eran Kolirin, explores the nature of relationships between those who are not meant to like each other. While the setting and characters could have bordered on cliche (Israelis and Egyptians! Jews and Muslims!), these elements are downplayed in favor of intimate moments both awkward and tender.
Both Goodbye Solo and The Visitor (the film you’ve most likely heard of because of Richard Jenkin’s Oscar nomination last year) observe America’s constantly changing cultural landscape. In both stories we see the awe and dread of the immigrant experience. In contrast, these films also include the experiences of men whose mundane and borderline hopeless lives are disrupted by their newly immigrated neighbors. These stories also avoid the easy cliche and, in both cases, leave the viewer wondering what might happen to these characters in the future.
Perhaps one of these will satisfy your weekend DVD rental needs. Any other recent overlooked films we should know about?