Also, Paul made a valiant attempt at mowing the lawn, but couldn't find the extension lead so could only get so far down the garden, and also it seems to have turned into a jungle because of all the rain lately. The plants by the back door have taken over the path and the entire thing has become a veritable neighbourhood of spiders. :(
Aside from that and going out for shopping - I decided to make the mushroom-chicken-gorgonzola thing for tea, so had to get mushrooms... Lidl didn't seem to have vegetables other than potatoes, for some reason - we didn't do very much. I've been trying to pwn Super Mario level 6, but the boss level is impossibly difficult, and at some point I need to go back to level 2 and defeat the boss in a different way to open up level 4. (If you go through it normally, it goes 1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6 - 8, with 4 and 7 having to be opened in a certain way from levels 2 and 5 respectively. Madness.)
In the evening we rented Southland Tales because Paul really wanted to see it. It's quite possibly the most impenetrable film in this universe. Or any universe. Even after reading the extensive FAQ on IMDb, I am none the wiser as to what was actually going on, and it doesn't help that apparently the first half of the story occurs in a trilogy of graphic novels, which is why the film is split into three parts which start at Part IV. And that's not even half of the confusion.
The bit about casting well-known and typically 'teeny' stars (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson) to poke fun at Hollywood, I kind of got, but the rest of it? Completely flew over my head. There are so many plots going on it was utterly impossible to figure it out. This is a film by the man who brought us Donnie Darko, and if you thought that was confusing, you ain't seen nothing yet. It also uses the same idea of the fourth dimension, just to make things even more baffling. Apparently it's a direct interpretation of the Book of Revelations, so I would imagine anyone with a good grounding in that particular Bible text would be considerably less lost than the rest of us, but still...
I was very tired by the end of it. I think I even nodded off a couple of times (into TV-sleep, where you can still hear what's going on but your brain fills in the gaps - very odd) but by that point I figured it really wouldn't matter because it wasn't like the rest of it was making any sense.
Would I recommend it? Only if you really like the writer/director, and only if you like having your brain completely mangled or enjoy coming out a film more confused than when you went in. Still... it looks pretty. :)
Yesterday evening, on a slightly less confusing and more harrowing note, we went to see The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I saw this advertised a couple of times and then read about it in Empire, after which I decreed I wanted to see it. I am sort of grimly attracted to Holocaust films from a historically interested point of view; I've been having a DJ comment discussion with Eni about this after she saw the film recently, wherein we've lamented the lack of interesting, child-friendly information about incidents like WW2. When you learn this stuff at school, it's deathly boring (it's true of most history post-primary school, I feel). Stuff like this film - which is a 12A certificate - and the diary of Anne Frank should be obligatory reading / viewing on the curriculum. I don't think children of that age appreciate the scale or horror of the genocide until many years later, but more age-appropriate literature would definitely help. This film in particular would make that horror definitely hit home.
It's based on a children's book in which Bruno, the son of a concentration camp Commandant (Auschwitz, no less) moves with his family to a house near the camp (part of his father's duty to the 'fatherland'), where he befriends a boy (Schmuel) wearing striped pyjamas on the other side of a barbed wire fence.
I won't say more than that for fear of ruining it. All I will say is that I was very, very surprised by the ending.
The film is incredibly effective in the way it portrays the Holocaust through the eyes of an eight-year-old. He doesn't understand that the camp isn't a farm (he thinks the fences are to keep the animals from getting out - ironic, considering that's probably exactly what the Nazis were thinking...) and is confused by the conflicting information he receives from his family. The tutor for Bruno and his sister, Gretl, preaches Nazi literature to them about how "the Jew" is an evil creature which must be eradicated for the future of Germany; 12-year-old Gretl discards her dolls for posters of Hitler; his father describes those at the camp as "Well, they're not really people." Bruno learns that he and Schmuel should not be friends, but doesn't understand why, though he seems to understand enough that it should be kept a secret.
I think the worst part for me - aside from the obvious, which you will understand if you see it - was the part where Bruno spies on a meeting and subsequently the Nazi 'advertisement' for the concentration camp, selling them as work camps where, after the work is finished for the day, there are cafes and music and dances. I found that bit quite chilling, not only for the bare-faced lie, but especially as some of the officers in the meeting were blatantly laughing about it. Of course, Bruno believes what he sees. (Perhaps it says a lot about the Nazis' perception of the Jews at the time - no more intelligent than a child, despite their apparent wily personalities... Perhaps, in itself, it says a lot about the blind stupidity of racism.)
This is only one incident of unintentional eight-year-old ignorance of the situation; even at the start, Bruno is happily chasing his friends through the streets of Berlin, whilst the Nazi soliders herd Jewish families from their homes and into the backs of trucks. He gets Schmuel into trouble because he himself fears the 'angry soldier', without anticipating the consequences for his friend. Rather than breaking Schmuel out of the camp when the occasion arises, Bruno wants in.
In fact, the more I think about this film, the more effective it is. The perspective only makes it that much more insightful and interesting. I could talk about the ending endlessly, but I really don't want to spoil it for anyone who intends to see it - by all means, though, if you do, feel free to engage me in discussion. :)
I will end by saying this: when it finished, Paul's exact words were "How the fuck was that a 12A?!", and in many ways, he's quite right. In terms of cinematic rating, it can quite happily be a 12A because there is no swearing, no on-screen violence and no sex, all of which would bump up the rating... but it's the subject matter itself which would surely warrant a higher rating. The 12A rating is due to the fact that it's based on a children's book, and because we see the incidents through the eyes of an eight-year-old. Will children enjoy this film? More than likely not, unless they already have a growing interest in that part of history, because there's very little to appeal. There are certainly accessible elements - the power of childhood friendship, innocent exploration, disobeying your parents - but it's the greater message which may be lost. As much as this is a children's film, it will probably affect the parents more profoundly, not least because - as this entry proves - it makes you think. It's not the sort of film that you leave behind in the cinema.
The only way that young adults of our generation - and our future children, if any - can truly appreciate the events of the Holocaust is through films like this, like Schindler's List (which I still haven't seen) and The Pianist and the countless others, through revealing documentaries and first-hand accounts. Eventually there will be no more survivors left to recount the tale, and the immediacy of it won't be there.
On that note, I will stop, or this entry will never end
Paul has complained that we seem to have been accidentally inundated with Nazis lately, first with Cabaret (I had "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" stuck in my head yesterday...) and now with this. He thinks there's something wrong with me, but it was purely unintentional. :P Perhaps I should let that element of The Sound of Music be a surprise? ;)
In other news, I'm getting my hair trimmed after work. It's done that thing where it's gone from manageable to impossible within the space of a week. I'd forgotten the drawback to keeping it short. ;) I may dye it black again, so watch this space...
As you may have guessed by the length of this entry, there's very little to do at work again today... so I shall post this before it gets out of hand. ;)