Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In the Red: Paper Heart & Gomorrah

Paper Heart is twee, but not so twee as to be unwatchable. Cute, but no so cute as to be lovable and clever, but not nearly as clever as it think it is. The film plays around with reality by having the film be a faux documentary; intermingling actual interview sections with Charlene Yi (who was less cloying and obnoxious then I thought she'd be), staged and improvised sections where Yi is starting up a reluctant romance with Michael Cera and finally staged paper doll retellings of love stories. It works but never really coheres. If you think you might find this adorable you probably will. I can't fathom why they attempted to try to make this seem real, what was the point? Why hire someone else to play the director? There's a lot of needless artifice here. I will admit though to laughing pretty hard when Yi was interviewing a bunch of young girl who volunteered that they were in love with Chris Brown (in hindsight that may have been a bad idea).
Gamorrah is Matteo Garrone's gritty, noisy, messy and uncompromising gangster drama set in Italy. We've come a LONG way from the attempts as civility and honor found in the Godfather.
Now would-be street kids quote the DePalma Scarface at each other unaware tha they're caught up in the game that's likely to get them all killed and little to no chance of ever reaching that level of wealth and excess. The film does a very through job of showing many different levels and rites of passage for young and old gangsters. From Don's to wannabes the film gives a sense of Wire-like depth to its world in its short (for a gangster epic) run-time. Its easy to get lost in this very busy world but attentive reviewers will be rewarded with fairly well developed characters and even the casual viewer will be struck by the powerful set-pieces (like a young boy's bullet test or testing out heavy weapons on the beach). Recommended for fans of more street level crime amongst the ruins as seen in City of God and La Haine.

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