Monday, January 5, 2015

Pawel Pawlikowski"s Beautiful Film Ida Does More with Less

 My last two posts were about film.  That's sort of scary. Scarier still is that this one is about film, too.  I try to stay away from movies because, with so many being produced and flung at you these days, I can't separate the wheat from the chaff.

Last night I watched "IDA" on the home video and it actually kept me from watching a football playoff game, a boxing match, and a sex tape. I'm only kidding about the sex tape, but "IDA" is a seriously good movie that the 'Big Players' will try to diminish. It breaks all of today's film conventions and, like a cat, lands on its feet.

You don't make black and white films any more without being ridiculed by the big studio production heads.  "We're not there any more," they gurgle like depleted oil wells.  We may not be there any more but we're not anywhere else unless you like a steady diet of Hollywood fantasy films with money-making plot templates.

See, the problem with Pawl Pawlikowski's work is immense.  He's (or was) a film nobody, a documentarist, a European, an Oxford graduate with a down-to-earth view of things. That's outre in Hollywood, you know. He's lacking in decadence.  The other problem is that Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida" is tight in all the right places.  It doesn't have any screwy baloney plot twists. Noone gets head blown off, no cops rush into the screen saying "go, go go!" and no car chases.

Well, it does have a "car chase" of a sort.  A main character, an elite judge in Polish society of the 60s, drives a young novice (before you become a nun, you're a novitiate) in search of her parents, victims of the Nazi occupation.  It looks like a cool 50s Studebaker, even though the setting is the 60s.  A ten year old car marked you as one of the elite in the Soviet dominated era. The two women are related; "Red Wanda" is Ida's aunt and, too, suffers from the horrendous brutality attendant of the era.  Actually, "Red Wanda" suffers from lots of things, her demons are plentiful, as she was an integral part of the Marxist-Socialist purging of Nazi sympathizers at the end of WWII. "I've put lots of people to death" she says with a tormented look in her eyes--implying they were not all guilty....

Stay tuned. Life has intervened but later I would bring you another episode in this exciting tale of a movie which is truly great.

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