Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Everything Can Sit Next to Each Other, Right?

A few nights ago, the old man and I saw Matteo Garrone's Gomorra and while I watched, I couldn't help but contrast it to Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders, which I'd recently finished a few days prior. One is pure gangster, pure killing and the other is gangsterish. Both films gesture toward their bigger stories through hybrid story-telling and blended collection of images. 

A surprising aspect--it's not the killing, the killing is expected--of Gomorra is that it is almost completely devoid of women. There's one gratuitous stripper segment (in which a stripper lap dances for a two-ton whale of a man, oy), a gaggle of young girls who only seem interested in talking to each other, and one woman who refuses to be forced out of her home by the local gang. (I won't say what happens to her.) As the men ruthlessly kill each other, marking their territories, and choosing sides, the few glimpses of women are so shadowed that I don't even remember the actresses faces. It's a weird point to make about gang and violent culture: it doesn't matter that anyone was born because eventually it will matter very little when they die.  

Band of Outsiders is just as much a tale of film itself and the influences of film making as it is a tale of love and crime. Odile serves as the innocent titillated by the large sum of cash in her aunt's house. The gangster bits, Arthur's tomfoolery at being shot at the beginning of the film foreshadows worse events to come, worse approaches as the crime becomes more harsh, more real. There is a tongue-in-cheek nod to American gangster movies, but the film still maintains its own shift to brutality when we learn Arthur is desperate to steal because his family is desperate for the money. As the three characters dance together in the Madison dance scene, they are all together yet apart, silly yet seriously keeping step to time, and involved in the "what plan?" plan that is doomed to fail. 

Band of Outsiders I want to watch again for Anna Karina's enchanting run through Paris suburbia, Franz's lovelorn looks, for the run through the Louvre, for the film's multifacetedness. I leave this film with something to put together, something to understand about character. After Gomorra, I leave knowing that senseless killing is senseless, that it's always a little unexpected and stupid, that it's apparently never going away.  



No comments: