As the school year winds down it seems that the overall stress level in Cornell winds up. Fortunately for all of us Cornell Cinema is screening various films through study period to May 14. These film styles ranging from blockbuster to indie; Ingmar Bergman to Clint Eastwood are perfect for offsetting a stressful day. However, I want to highlight two films that will be playing during our last week of classes that, while not being incredibly well-known, are certainly worth seeing inbetween your final classes.
Ithaca College alum Rodrigo Bellot highlights his alma mater and his home country, Bolivia in his edgy exploration of sex. The films action occurs mainly in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz and on the Ithaca College campus (however something tells me that IC won’t be using this film for recruitment purposes, but we’ll get to that later). In the course of the film a poor Bolivian schoolgirl, a Colombian visiting his cousin in Santa Cruz, a rich stud on his way to study in America, a theater major at IC, and a football player and model who has yet to come out of the closet each embark (or get forced) to venture into sexual activity.
While many movies portray sex as an enlightening and enjoyable experience, Bellot’s film shows the dark underbelly that romance films tend to sweep under the carpet. Sexual Dependency explores the immediate and often dirty consequences of adultery, prostitution, and rape with none of the results ending up pretty. Instead of lighting up a cigarette, most of the film’s main characters end up puking after their sexual experiences.
However, don’t let the rather provocative story overshadow Bellot’s talent. His cinematographic skills along with the use of a split screen throughout the entire film give the audience double the visual material that is seen in the average motion picture.
Fear and Trembling
Amelie, the young Belgian translator working in a Japanese corporation in Tokyo, notes during her job that in ancient times the emperor of Japan was met with “fear and trembling.” Amelie often personifies this advice in her interaction with her superiors. Amelie, who was born and lived her first years in Japan has constructed an all too idyllic image of the nation by her return. When Amelie tries to connect with what she feels is her “native” Japan, she does not count on the natural impregnability of its culture. The more Amelie tries to desperately gain the friendship and respect of her co-workers, the more she breaks the cultural and business norms of submission and “saving face.” Eventually, Amelie finds herself not translating, but cleaning bathrooms.
However the most interesting aspect of the film is the relationship between Amelie and her supervisor, Fubuki, a woman of 29 who we discover has sacrificed much time, and even her prospects of marriage to attain her position. When Amelie, not understanding of the natural order of doing business, steps out of line it threatens Fubuki. Eventually the movie boils down to a showdown between Amelie and her boss who seems to make life a living hell for her. However, Amelie can never allow herself to hate Fubuki. Like Japan itself, Fubuki to Amelie represents the distant beauty and intrigue of the East.
While the plot of Fear and Trembling sounds quite somber, the film surprisingly comes across as very light and enjoyable. People with a particularly dry sense of humor will enjoy scenes where Amelie refusal to try a piece of candy actually turns into a screaming match between her and the corporation’s vice president.
The film is actually based on the autobiographical novel by Amelie Nothomb and features Sylvie Testud in the leading role. Testud, whose subtle beauty and wonderful camera reactions of confusion and sometimes suppressed fury alone make Fear and Trembling worth seeing.
Archived article by Mark Rice
Sun Film Editor