Monday, June 26, 2006

The Poison that in Measures Brings Illumination*

Part 1 - The Movie

I took the advice of RC over at Strange Culture and watched Everything is Illuminated.

WARNING: Little 'spoilers' follow

Directed by Liev Schreiber
Starring Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz, Boris Leskin, Laryssa Lauret

It seems that the Americans are finally ‘getting’ European movies.
Here’s what I liked about it:
  • Elijah Wood doing a Johnny Depp stranger in a strange land thing.
    (Those fish-tank-lensed-glasses must have given him a few headaches)
  • Subtitles; Ukrainians speaking their own language – giving us an excellent view on what was being lost in translation.
  • Poetic imagery used in the execution scene – Yellow Star of David cut to view down gun barrel cut to close up of eye cut to clap of thunder.
  • Scenery; The surreal field of sunflowers with the house at the centre; sheets drying on numerous washing lines.
  • Wry humour: there’s a scene where they pass a rundown Soviet era building and Wood asks “What happened to it?” Hutz answers “Independence”
  • Soundtrack - Score by Paul Cantelon; plus Russian and Ukrainian Gypsy folksongs from Leningrad, Arkadie Severmie, Csokolom and Tin Hat Trio; and gypsy punk from NYC's Gogol Bordello.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
  • That schmaltzy ending. After steadfastly refusing to explain too much throughout the journey they cop out in the end and ruin all that story telling credibility.
    Sure, the grandfather's bitterness is explained by his having to deny his faith; but to then go on to have all the family's problems solved by this revelation and have them instantly converted back to Judaism is plain sentimentalism of 'Fiddler on the Roof' proportions.
That aside it is a movie well worth watching.

*The title of this post paraphases the line "It's the poison that in measures brings illuminating visions" from REM's 'Chorus and the Ring' on their beautiful album Reveal


    Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

    Well P.I., it’s typically the kind of movie I wouldn’t see simply because it seems soaked up in Bobo Pharisaic “folk self-righteousness” the kind you see in many Hollywood productions where the hero (re)discovers the “virile” virtues of small town America (Pixar’s Cars), in a corrupt “Babylonian” world gone awry (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) and/or (re)connects with the wisdom of the Torah/African-American culture/the Complete Works of Enid Blyton… etc (Roots)


    This being said, I quite liked your review: (for a short while), it even made me want to spend $ 9 on the acquisition of the DVD in question…

    But it then occurred to me that you can get a fine bottle of Spanish white wine for the same price: a far more appropriate allocation of resources if you want to support European culture!

    Pisces Iscariot said...

    You may be right doc, just remember that wine is only sour grapes ;-)

    elasticwaistbandlady said...

    I've always enjoyed your artwork, Pisces. It'll be nice to have it showcased all in one place.

    Oh, and perhaps my Grandma's tibit of Dutch wisdom rings true. "A dimple in the chin, means the DEVIL within".

    Zatikia said...

    It´s good to see your work collected in your gallery, looking forward to seeing more of it.

    RC said...

    I am glad you watched this film and really enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    More movies like this please...i think the ending too is sort of week...

    a good ending is such a challenge.

    --RC of

    mullet said...

    iI'm gonna rent that out....although Elijah Wood puts me off somewhat.....he has the most child-like face I have ever seen on an adult...I guess it works if you have recommended it though.