Tuesday, March 30, 2004

For Your Netflix Queue

I recently came across a movie I want to give my highest recommendation. The film, made last year by British director Michael Winterbottom, is called "In This World". We watched it last night, and I had to watch it again today. You can find a trailer here, the Rotten Tomatoes review page (95% positive), and an NPR interview with Michael Winterbottom about the film. The story is of two Afghan refugees attempting to emigrate, illegally, overland, to London. It is a docu-drama that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. The plot events that happen to the main characters are fiction, but taken from the accounts of real refugees. There are almost no professional actors in the movie, most people you see are playing themselves. The dialogue is mostly unscripted. The lead actors are actual refugees from the Peshawar refugee camp, one of whom smuggled his way back into England after the film and claimed asylum. All of the scenes are shot on location, guerrilla style, usually with a film crew of just three people. It reminded me a lot of Baraka. In this case there are characters and dialogue and a (mostly) coherent plot. But the dialogue is sparse, and like Baraka most of the story is told through pictures and music. Also like Baraka the photography and the score are absolutely brilliant and provide a window into a world that most Westerners never experience. And like Baraka, the film has a powerful humanist theme. I'd kill for the soundtrack, but it doesn't appear it was ever released as a CD. Put it at the top of your queue. And don't miss the behind the scenes feature on the disc.

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