Must Read After My Death and The International

Must Read After My Death is a documentary about a dysfunctional family during the 1960’s and ‘70’s made up of found material: transcripts of tapes and hours of home videos made by the grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles of the director, Morgan Dews. There is a lot of stűrm and drang in the relationships, but what was odd for me was that by the time it was all over, I wasn’t sure what went wrong with the family. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except that I really felt I was supposed to know. The filmmaker seemed to want to lay the blame totally on the shoulders of the alcoholic and too demanding father (though I could very well be wrong). But reading between the lines (or cells), there also seem to be two other culprits: a mother who may have suffered from depression to such an extent that she can’t run a household, and a faith in psychoanalysis that may have been woefully mislaid. Various family members attended therapy sessions for hours a week and their putting down all their thoughts on tape was just a reflection of this dependence on the analytic cure. But if one has to go to therapy for the number of years these people did and nothing changes, and the therapists can’t seem to point out what is obviously wrong in the family, then the therapists must hold themselves equally accountable for the family’s dysfunction. But the movie doesn’t seem to think this way. When the father dies, the dysfunction ends. But does that mean the father was the cause? Well, the way the movie is written, at this same time, the mother also no longer has to take care of the large household and the therapy comes to an end. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. All in all, one could actually view this movie as a Scientologist’s wet dream.

The International is the new, big, studio film by the originally more independent German filmmaker Tom Twyker. It’s one of these over the top paranoid thrillers in which an organization seems to have the omnipotence of God and can do anything they want and manipulate the world with no problem, yet still can’t stop Obama and the Democrats from being elected to office. It’s also one of those films in which the bad guys have no trouble killing off anybody they want except the heroes. Overall, Twyker’s direction is as bland as the story, but he has a great eye for architecture and there’s one well staged shoot out in the Guggenheim museum that ultimately fails because the police show up at the convenience of the screenwriter rather than how they would in real life. The acting’s fine, though Clive Owen is on such a high note of tension from the beginning, he doesn’t really have any place to go. His reactions to the dirty deeds of the bad guys remind one of Claude Rains in Casablanca who is shocked, shocked that something illegal is going on. Armin Mueller-Stahl is around to give the picture class.

Other films of Twyker highly recommended: Winter Sleepers, Run, Lola, Run, The Princess and the Warrior and Heaven.

So tell me what you think.

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