Monthly Archives: March 2013

Paradies: Liebe by Ulrich Seidl (2012)

2012 contestant in Cannes for the Palme d’Or against Michael Haneke’s Amour.
Teresa is a lonely woman post her prime. Overweight, unable to communicate with her teenage daughter, at work dealing with retarded adults – her life is colourless.
She sets off on a journey to Kenya. In search of sunshine, in search of adventure, in search of entertainment.
Hanging out with three other overweight women her age, she learns about the phenomenon of local lovers. What she fails to learn is that a holiday romance should be a fair exchange rather than just obtainment. Teresa keeps having ethical and moral questions but fails to understand she should give something in return for moments of pleasure in the arms of young attractive men. When one of them tricks her into giving him money, Teresa gets angry. Her anger is unjustified given the game she decided to take part in. Yet, she fails to understand that.
It’s a sad story about cultural differences and post-colonial thinking which should have been changed about a hundred years ago. Somehow, it is visible in this film (which is to be followed by two more in the series) that certain way of thinking stays carved in white European brains and it will take ages to erase that.

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Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Falardeau (2012)

Canadian-Quebecois candidate in the foreign language category in last year’s Oscars.
It tells a story of one class of 12-year olds, whose teacher Martine hangs herself in the opening sequence. What follows is a tale of dealing with shock, dealing with loss and how youngsters do not differ much from adults. Maybe only to the extent that they are half adult size.
Their new teacher is an immigre from Algeria. Monsieur Lazhar deals with adapting issues, culture shock and as we later learn, with a private loss of his own.
His teaching is way more traditional and strict than any of the other Canadian teachers, who are mostly women. Slowly he learns how much the craft of teaching has progressed. Gradually, it is craftily shown, how teachers are the opressed at school. How teachers are unable to cope with the challenges of contemporary upbringing of their pupils. In the end, it turns out that perhaps, just perhaps, the system is skewed. And Martine couldn’t deal with the inability to act, to help the kids, who are in the end – only kids.

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