Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)
I expected to not like this as much the second time around, though it’s been about two decades since my first viewing. I think I like it even more. This is not a movie for everybody: cruelty, violence, and an all little person cast, which then throws up the “exploitation” flag for some viewers. One of the wonders of the cast is that they are interesting to look at because they are real, regular people. They likely aren’t actors, but that doesn’t matter much in the fantasy of the film. I sometimes have a hard time watching Hollywood movies with a bunch of “beautiful” people. It makes me ill. Like looking at contemporary newscasters or reality stars. They make me uncomfortable.
One of my favorite things about the movie is how it appears to be a universe of little people, while everything in the universe is built at “normal” size. Now there’s a Herzogian existential metaphor for you.
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
I liked this much more than I expected, and in terms of worldview, it’s a polar opposite to the one presented in Even Dwarfs. It’s also not as sultry as the posters would have you believe. I was reminded of Ozu’s family dramas. People trying to make it in the world. Love. Anger. Work. Desire. The title even suggests pursuits of happiness and the film often asks what happens when a person’s choice for happiness doesn’t match the choices of their loved ones?
For a ‘90s film, there’s a refreshing lack of hip irony. Maybe I just get softer as I get older, but there’s a truth to trying to understand our reactions to watching ourselves and the world change. I think any kind of understanding of this came intellectually to me through Heraclitus in a class on the Presocratics. Though I had experienced true life-changing events, I don’t think I was ready emotionally to deal with them. I think I started to be able to do that when I started obsessing over Kurosawa: Ikuru (1952), Dreams (1990), or Madadayo (1993), etc. Maybe now Kieslowski is my favorite director of this sort of film that explores possible responses to the inevitable. Our worlds will end, but with fewer capes than represented in cinema today.
I Saw the Devil (2010)