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Gang Roundup – February 2020

How is it going, everyone? 

I hope your 2020 is going great. Mine has not shined so far, but it has 11 months to regain my favour. I hope it will use all of them.

I want to do something different for this Gang Roundup since I watched two outstanding films last week, Jojo Rabbit and 1917. I’d love to share the experience, which was fantastic on both occasions.

Jojo Rabbit

by Taika Waititi

This is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Seriously!

Visually, it’s fantastic. The historical setting is very accurate, and still, there’s an almost surreal quality to it in the use of brightly mellow colours (if that makes any sense to you).

The actors are all fantastic. Roman Griffin Davis is spectacular as the protagonist in spite of his young age. He has such a gentle, sweet way that so starkly clashes with his character’s fanatism, making it both surreal and very human at the same time.
Scarlett Johansson is a spectacular Rosie, Jojo’s mother. She’s driven and positive, strong and vulnerable at the same time.
But all the cast is fantastic as well as the characters they interpret. I particularly appreciated Sam Rockwell, whose character, Captain K, has a formidable character arc and was one of the biggest surprises in the plot.
But really I’d like to spend a couple more words for Taika Waititi as Adolf Hitler. Waititi (who’s also the director and the scriptwriter of the movie) imagined Hitler as Jojo’s imaginary friend, and as such he’s a ten-year-old interpretation of the man. Most of the time, he appears as an incompetent clown, who’s even nice and relatable. But there’s a moment in the movie when Jojo says that Elsa – the Jewish girl hiding in his house – seems like a good person, and Hitler goes off into a tirade against Jewes. It is clear that Waititi studied Hitler’s ‘style of speech’ and really, he gave me the chills. In a few moments of speech, he gave a historical context to a character who might have looked like a light joke up to that point.

Besides, the entire film is like that. It has a dreamy quality. There’s a sense of cosiness, but the nationalist world is there, the oppression, even death. The film doesn’t shy away from any of it, and it’s even more shocking to witness when it happens in an otherwise ‘safe’ environment.

It is such an honest story. Intelligent. Brave. Poetic. Full of heart. It’s a fairytale that speaks about truth.

It’s beautiful!

1917

by Sam Mendes

Though very different from Jojo Rabbit1917 is also very similar, crazy at this might sound. 

Where the plot of Jojo Rabbit is complex and layers, the plot of 1917 is deceivingly simple and straightforward. But this is what allows this film to be so visceral and close to the viewer. The action is very easy to follow, so we can concentrate all our attention and energy on the characters, what happens to them, what they feel, and fear, what drives them. 

The historical setting is incredible here too. Some shots seem to come straight out of WWI photos. There’s an attention to details that makes the movie life-like. 

I’ve rarely seen such a level of accuracy. 

It’s a film with very few dialogues, but I hardly realised it, invested as I was with the characters. That’s how immersive it is.
There has been a lot of talk about Mendes’s one-shot take of the film, and really it was amazing. The film started and the scene went on and on and on and after a while I started expecting that it would cut off, but it didn’t. You cant’ imagine how much anxiety that gave me, the sense of going on without a moment of pause.

The music score was fantastic. Music is the protagonist of my favourite scene in the movie when Schofield (the main characters) finally comes to the wood after so much war and mud and hardship and dead. As he pauses a moment on the bank of the river from which he just survived, a singing voice rises from afar. He goes towards it, and the voice becomes ever stronger until he comes to a glade where soldiers are sitting motionless listening to a man singing.
Gave me goosebumps. This is how even this film which is so realistic still has dreamlike moments of poetry.

There’s also another thing that I’ve noticed, but I’m not sure if I’m imagining it. 

I went to see the film with a friend of mine who’s also a Tolkien fan. When we saw Schofield and Blake setting on their mission together, we thought, Frodo and Sam… that’s because we’re nerds. 

When they crossed the no-man’s land, we thought, the Dead Marshes… but then all Tolkien fans know the Dead Marshes are really the no-man’s land.

When the two got into an abandoned German bunker, my friend said, Moria! And when in Mori- sorry, in the bunker, Black and Schofield stop each other from falling into a sharp drop and then help each other jumping over a chasm, we thought, wait! Something is going on here!

We spotted so many Lord of the Rings allusions (I mean, didn’t I describe Lothlorien just above?) and even a couple of homages to Peter Jackson. I’d love to know whether it was just us, or if others who’ve seen the film also thought the same. 

If you haven’t seen either, go watch them. They are both incredible films. 


Gang Roundup - February 2020 - Jojo Rabbit and 1917 are two of the most beautiful films set during a war I've ever seen.

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