LYT's Film Pick of the Weekend 7-20-07

Tough one, this. There is no way I'm ever going to recommend Hairspray -- even if it turns out to be passable, I hate the very idea of it. As for Adam Sandler pretending to be gay...if GLAAD approved of the movie, I'm thinking Sandler's gonna be pretty defanged in it (ironic, since I know there's a scene where he dresses up as Dracula). Goya's Ghosts apprently features Natalie Portman's first nude scene, but it's while she's being tortured by the Spanish Inquisition, so that doesn't sound too hot. (And yes, I know I recommended Captivity last week, but it was an actual horror movie, not an artist biopic with incidental torture scenes.)

But then I learned that last year's Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, The Lives of Others, is just now opening in OC, and I can wholeheartedly endorse that. Liberals will love it because it's foreign; conservatives will dig the anti-Commie subject matter. Set in East Germany in the era of the wall, it's the story of an eavesdropper for the government who believes himself a patriot and good communist, but is ordered to find trumped-up evidence on a particular playwright, because his boss wants to get it on with said playwright's wife. Ironically, the stepped-up surveillance serves to radicalize the writer, who was himself reasonably pro-communist prior.

East Germany practically resembles an alien planet in this movie, a nightmare right out of Kafka or one of the Star Trek episodes where Captain Picard would land on a totalitarian planet of some kind. Critics who didn't like this movie accused it of getting overly sentimental at the end, and perhaps whitewashing a potential villain, but I say it earns the sentiment that it has. Communism still comes off as a bankrupt pseudo-idealism that no-one really believes in, but they merely give lip service to while manipulating for personal gain, making suckers of those who thought it represented a higher ideal. Not unlike many other ideologies.

Check it out this weekend, if you haven't yet. It won't be on DVD for another month.

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