Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jason goes to Jewfest--Day 5

Another night, another two films

First up, the Centerpiece presentation of LITTLE ROSE. It's a thriller of espionage, free expression, and anti-semitism, set in late 1960's Warsaw. It's a solid spy thriller and a love triangle, centered on Kamila Sakowicz, codename
"Rózyczka" ("Little Rose"). She's the girlfriend of police officer Roman Rozek, who is hunting suspected dissidents. His main target is writer and professor (and suspected Zionist) Adam Warczewski, and Kamila is the perfect bait to inform on him. She gets close to him first as a student and then as a lover. And this is when it moves from spy thriller to love triangle, as her affection for Adam genuinely grows, as does Roman's jealousy. Well acted and sexy, but I feel I know too little about the political repression in late 1967 Poland to really get into it. I guess the important thing to know is there's a constant air of repression and paranoia.

And then the emotional French tearjerker THE ROUNDUP, about the roundup of French Jews in 1942. There are some scenes of political intrigue (French officials talking about how they can turn over their foreign national Jews, but don't break up families and no French citizen Jews), and there are some good opening scenes showing Jews living non-violently but uneasily wearing the star. And then the roundup happens, and over 13,000 Jews are rounded up and sent to the Velodrome (incidentally, the Germans asked for 24,000--over 10,000 were rescued and hidden by brave Parisian heroes. We only get a bare glimpse of that.) And then the heart of the story meets--the Jewish children, the only doctor (Jewish, of course) in the entire Velodrome (played by Jean Reno) who has 100 colleagues waiting to be let in, but the Germans prevent it. And a Christian nurse (Melanie Laurent from INGLORIOUS BASTERDS) who comes to help and ends up staying, even going with them to the camps and nearly working herself to death. Laurent makes a saintly heroine (some may object that her saintliness is a little overplayed, I thought it was appropriate), and focusing on the lives of the children is a good approach. Perhaps the most insightful observation is how children use play to process their world. There's something unnerving and yet adorable about children in the camp running around playing "roundup" ("I get to be the gendarme this time!")

Total Running Time: 238
My Total Minutes: 244,965

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