Dust Devil, Mamma Mia!, A Bittersweet Life

Trent S. Reid

Shot in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast during the death throes of Apartheid, Dust Devil is a challenging cross-genre mix of sociopolitical critique and perhaps too-personal exploration of shamanic mythology and consciousness. Labeled a serial killer film, it is more about characters fatalistically drawn together for transcendence from mortality, memory, and corporeality. The box set includes a work print, production diary, the still-timely Afghanistan documentary Voice of the Moon, and a CD of Simon Boswell’s Morricone-inflected score. I found the supplements insightful about the film and its broader context. The director seems drawn to regions of ancient unrest and well able to convey that on screen.

Dust Devil (South Africa/England) Miramax, 1993

Peter Maxwell
Filmmaker, Plein Aire Painters of Santa Ysabel, California

Robert Bresson’s films spanned much of the 20th Century. In 1967 he directed Mouchette, which casts an intriguing light on the life of the young title character as she deals with an abusive father, dying mother, and the scorn of schoolmates in the French countryside. Although probably not a good “first date” movie (unless one’s friend is a cinéaste), it is a timeless piece that holds up well.

On a lighter note is Mamma Mia! and its happy repertoire of ABBA songs. Sophie (played by the cheerful Amanda Seyfried) brings enthusiasm and joie de vivre to the screen as her marriage day approaches on a beautiful Greek isle. The DVD posts words on the screen in sync with the lyrics for aspiring karaoke singers!

Mouchette (France) Criterion, 1967

Mamma Mia! (USA) Universal, 2008

John Dacapias

Strangers on a Train introduced me to what is possible in film. A look at a diseased psychopath, Robert Walker, and the moral dance he plays with the irritating (sorry, everyone) tennis pro he befriends on a train (Farley Granger). Keep your eye on Hitchcock’s daughter being choked to death and the frenzied fight on an out-of-control carousel.

For something completely different: A Bittersweet Life. A most exquisite look at the conflicted life of the right-hand man of a major crime boss (whew!) No one else besides the South Koreans can make a climactic shootout and a fight scene as well shot as someone taking a quick bite of a chocolate dessert!

Strangers on a Train (USA) Warner Home Video, 1951

A Bittersweet Life (South Korea) Red Sun, 2005

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