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Movie Forums Top 100 of the 2010s - Group Watch

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The Burden, 2017

In a strange, dark metropolis, various animals sing out their inner emotions.

This movie is only 14 minutes long, yet I find it foreboding, funny, sad, touching, and I like the music.

I first watched this film when it was added to the Criterion Collection. It made me laugh in the first minute when a fish in a hotel sings the lines "Nobody wants to be with me/ I don't know why./ Or actually I do know why./ I have bad skin." Then moments later, "It wasn't anything anyone said, I just read between the lines and then I made up my mind."

I love everything about this film. I LOVE the craft of it. The tiny maps in the hotel, the newspaper the fish is holding. The little logos on the clothing. It is so meticulous and if you zoom your attention in on any corner of the screen, you are rewarded with some little detail.

I love that the film repeatedly takes us to the kind of places that just make you feel alone, especially after the sun has gone down: a hotel hallway, an empty cafeteria, a cubicle-laden workplace, a supermarket at night.

I do find it funny when you get musical numbers about mundane things, so the monkeys doing a big song and dance number about their telemarketing scam ("Interest free!") complete with spinning cubicles makes me laugh, especially as they chant their number one rule, "Say you're sorry, but never cancel the agreement."

At the heart of the silliness, though, is something kind of dark and sad. The camera pans between empty large parking lots, takes in the empty hotel hallway or grocery aisles. The sense of menace amps up in the grocery store sequence, as products fly off of the shelves and an ominous hole opens up in the floor.

The final song kind of gets me. "No sorrows, no troubles, when the burden is lifted from my shoulders." The song is given a gospel-like rhythm and upbeat pace, but it seems as if these depressed, isolated characters are just talking about dying, and the burden is just their everyday lives. Maybe that's a lot to read into some singing fish with synthesizer voices, but I find something very moving about a large group singing about their dreams and hopes yet not connecting with each other. As we pan out to see that they are in a bizarre, self-contained floating rock and those eerie horns take over the score, I kind of get shivers.

I think that short films are often overlooked when thinking about the best of a decade. (I nearly nominated It's Such a Beautiful Day which, at 62 minutes, just seems to fall onto the radar as a "feature film"). I always admire the economy of a good short film--what's that? I can watch it during the intermission of the hockey game?!-- and how well just a few minutes can be used to take me on an emotional journey.

I checked out several of Niki Lindroth von Bahr's shorts after watching this one. (I have yet to watch her segment of The House on Netflix because it keeps glitching out on me, but soon!). I quite like all of her stuff, with Bath House coming a close second to this one (and it has more of a straight-ahead narrative).

I have yet to even start to make my list, but The Burden will certainly be in consideration for me.

The House is great. I liked it even more than The Burden

The House is great. I liked it even more than The Burden
I am sooooooo looking forward to it. I got to watch maybe the first 10 minutes before the internet and Netflix cruelly conspired to rob me of the rest of it.

Capernaum, 2018

Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) lives in a Lebanese slum with his many siblings--including beloved sistar Sahar (Cedra Izzam)--and his indifferent, cruel parents Selim (Fadi Yousef) and Souad (Kawsar Al Haddad). After a particularly nasty fight over his parents' intent to sell Sahar to their landlord, Zain strikes out on his own where he meets Ethiopian immigrant Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), who agrees to take Zain in in exchange for Zain babysitting her child Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole) while she works. But some unexpected circumstances leave Zain with far more responsibility than he expected.

It's hard to know where to start with this film, an emotional rollercoaster that stays anchored in Al Rafeea's striking and stirring performance as Zain. The film could easily be a misery slog, but his spirit and ambition keeps the film on the right side of not simply drowning in pessimism and pain.

Big kudos to whoever found Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, because she is an absolute treasure just as her name suggests, and her chemistry with Al Rafeea gives a pure heart and soul to a story we know is going to break our hearts. Their scenes together provide a perfectly aimed double-edged sword, as Zain hauling Yonas around in a repurposed skateboard/washtub combination is both adorable and tragic. Having to care for Yonas showcases Zain's ingenuity and perseverance, but it's much more than should ever be asked of a child. It's remarkable to learn that Al Rafeea was not only a non-professional actor (as were most of the cast), but that he himself was a refugee.

I read a glowing review of the film that praised it for "finally" having the courage to make a film that asks whether or not it's moral to have children if you live in poverty. And to that, like, LOL WHAT?! The real issue with Zain's family is not their poverty---though obviously that exacerbates many of their problems--but rather the attitude that the parents take toward their children. Their children are an inconvenience and, at times, a commodity to be sold. Rahil, who also lives in poverty, shows us the reverse side of this dynamic. She is incredibly loving toward Yonas and even toward Zain. She is nurturing and does her best to provide, setting aside her pride. I had a student a few years back who arrived to my summer school classroom very rattled. On the way to school her mother had been pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic violation, but she had some other issue that involved her having to go down to the police station. At this point she had to tell the officer that she'd left her baby unattended in the house. What I think the film highlights mainly is the Matthew effect and its impact on the people in the most desperate situation. Rahil has no resources she can call on: no family, and no social structures in place to help her without risking the loss of her child. Zain's parents aren't bad people because they're having children while impoverished---they are people who are impoverished and they are bad people.

What I think the film gets absolutely right is the heavy cost of social indifference. Yes, there are some overtly villainous characters, like the man who exploits Rahil's need for new papers and wants to sell her baby, Zain's parents, and the man who marries and has sex with Zain's eleven year old sister. But there are so many people who don't even look twice at Zain as he carts around an infant, and when a character needs medical care but doesn't have papers, the hospital refuses to admit her. There will always be immoral people out there, but when so many in a society are willing to turn a blind eye, that's when serious, long-lasting damage happens. The film does show that people are willing to help at times--such as the woman at the food bank who clearly doesn't buy Zain's story but gives him supplies anyway---but with so many people needing help and attention, even they are stretched thin.

Very moving film that gets its message across without ever leaning so hard into despair that you disconnect.

I realize this review is a few weeks late, lol, but I am trying to get around to all of the nominations, even if I missed them the first time.

Summer 1993 is a wonderful film that I never hear anyone talk about. My original review of the film from when I first saw it in 2019:

Summer 1993 (2017) is a beautiful Spanish film, written and directed by Carla Simón. The film stars the adorable Laia Artigas as six-year-old Frida, who is taken in by her uncle's family after the death of her mother. In addition to being super cute, she gives a wonderful, heartbreaking, compelling performance. The film tells its story in a believable and engaging way and features lovely cinematography and an effective screenplay. Recommended for anyone who appreciates a good film. I rate Summer 1993 an 8/10.

I won't get to it in time, but it's the next DVD I'll get from Netflix and I'll review it when it arrives. Never heard of it, but it looks really interesting.

Just finished Summer 1993, but it didn't do a whole lot for me. It's shot well and it has some decent scenes throughout. I just felt too disconnected from Frida to get into her character, nor was I able to get on her wavelength throughout most of the film. It did pick up a bit as it moved to the final act, but overall, it left a lot to be desired.

Current candidates to host the next round...

Uh, nobody so far. Participate, guys! Otherwise, we'll have to watch another Speling movie

Watched Summer 1993
It's a lovely, sensitive take on childhood and complex aspects of it, or if you want to understand why children, especially those under stress, behave in a certain way, and how through patience each of them could be helped.

While the setting is beautiful and the pace is good (I prefer them slow), the biggest thing to admire is the director getting those wonderful performances from a six and a three year old. And it was quite a stunning performance from the young Laia Artigas.

It's lovely at times, but more often than not a bit shattering story.

Thanks for the recommendation @Allaby

Sneaky. What do I do, just nominate a film from the 2010s that is worthy of consideration?
Yeah, pretty much. Also, check out the second post on the first page of this thread to make sure you don't nominate something which has already been nominated.

Might try and squeeze that one in if it's available to me (doubtful but you never know) as the mornings are now free and clear of the auld bladder-kicking.
NomsPre-1930 Countdown

terrible, 0/5, not enough puppies.