Sunday, April 01, 2007

Things I did in Cork: Seeing A Film called "Black Book"

I had a gap in my espionage schedule in February, so my beloved and I paid a trip to Cork. We got to catch up with our old pals Myles and Sammywol and their delightful daughter. We also went to the cinema, and saw the film Black Book, by that Paul Verhoeven fellow, you know, the guy who made Robocop and Starship Troopers. Unlike those two, this film was made in his native Netherlands and is set in the later stages of the Second World War rather than the future. The story follows this Jewish woman as she tries to survive until the end of the war. It is all very exciting and stylish, and works well as a thriller. But there were things about it I was not so fond of, notably the film's whodunit element (over which one of the resistance group is secretly in league with TEH NAZIS). I do not like whodunits, as they make you approach a film as a puzzle rather than a story. In most whodunits, the culprit is always pretty obvious. In this film, the villain is obvious in retrospect, though the film misdirects you almost up until the end. Still, it is like a Hollywood film in that the identity of the informer makes narrative sense, rather than just being some buy who sat at the back all the time and never said anything.

I would not, however, want to let my gripes against the whodunit genre give anyone the impression that that I did not enjoy this film. It is a masterpiece of well-made character driven drama, and a worthy film to see on my first trip to the Kino, Cork's art house cinema. I recommend this to anyone who wants to get a sense of the nastiness and moral corruption from which a society under occupation suffers, and the self-righteous vindictiveness that erupts when it is released from its bondage.

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