Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Film Club Meets The Nasty Girl

Harking back to Sunday evening and the most recent instalment of Film Club, it dawned on me that I haven't done anything about film club for a while.
Since I last wittered on about DVD watching at Millbrooker Towers, we've enjoyed (and we did enjoy) Jacques Tati's golden slapstick and innocently humoured Les Vacances de M. Hulot......and Pedro Almodovar's oddly simplistic, off-the-wall and heavily stylised Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down.

The moment has passed for any sort of in depth mutterings about those films; we thought they were good and I'd happily recommend either to you.

Sunday just gone, though, saw us gathering for a piece of German cinema entitled in its native land Das schreckliche M├Ądchen and helpfully translated for the English speaking market as The Nasty Girl.

If you try typing into Google image search "The Nasty Girl" all sorts of interesting images appear before your eyes, but most of them aren't from this film; they're from others that probably don't have a certificate and that you probably wouldn't watch with your mum.

Michael Verhoeven's 1990 whimsy, however, is eminently watchable with any company you care to choose.

Set in the fictional Bavarian town of Pfilzer, the film is in faux documentary style, narrated by the heroine, Sonja (played by Lena Stolze). We see a brief portrayal of her early years (in black and white) which provides plentiful moments of gentle humour (yes, even in a German film) as she explores the world around her and makes the occasionally excruciating errors of judgement that all children and adolescents make in the journey to adulthood.

The film changes into colour as Sonja grows up, echoing the era being represented. The story coalesces into a low key investigative thriller when Sonja enters an essay competition and decides to write about her home town's history during the Third Reich.Needless to say, lots of people don't want her to be poking around in such a potentially sensitive area and her determination (and that of her nearest and dearest) is severely tested. This never spills over into cinematic histrionics or melodrama. The pace is kept delightfully low key as befits the pace of life in a small community. Clever direction and nicely played by the actors. We come to know Sonja's family well and their frequent banal utterances and petty foibles provide an easy diversion from the more serious subject matter of Sonja's investigation.

What really made the film stand out for me was the trick of using projected backgrounds for many of the more dramatic scenes; no attempt at all was made to make these projections seem real - quite the opposite, we're allowed to concentrate on the dialogue as a marvellously surreal background slips gently into and through our vision. Clever direction, yet again.
The film club scale: Dong took one fag break in the 90 minute running time, but only because The Wizzers of Soz needed the loo so we paused the film; Shazzerooneypoos was in Guernsey so no matter how many wuffling noises she made, we didn't hear them; Slocombe was very effusive in his praise, but I can't remember his specific pithy quotation; The Wizzers of Soz (who claims not like subtitled films - yeah, yeah, pull the other one) enjoyed it lots and so did Mrs The Millbrooker.

A thumbs up, then. If you're stuck for something to watch and fancy a decidedly "different" film with a delicate touch, a spot of whimsy and enough storyline to keep you watching intently - try The Nasty Girl. Just don't do the Google image search without the safe search filter switched on unless you want to see lots of naughty things.

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