god's country

if like me and a lot of people you are a sucker for classic french cinema (RIP michel piccoli) MUBI is your friend, although i am not sure if it's available in australia but you have SBS so stop whinging.

i'd started cancelling MUBI because their app on my samsung TV is so shitty. but after jumping through various hoops it offered me a 40% discount for a year so instead of 10EU it costs 6EU per month so i gave in and kept my subscription.

the problem on the samsung TV is that, although some movies play fine, sometimes a movie just refuses to play all the way through. so you get to a certain point, usually just as its getting interesting, and it just stops and try as you may it will not play that movie beyond a certain point. it would make you nostalgic for the day when you used to rent DVDs in the 90s and when you were watching the movie there was a scratch on it somewhere and the picture would start to shudder and then it would freeze. i did have a girlfriend once who had magic powers to make the DVD player go beyond that point where the movie got stuck with a combination of spittle and judicious use of fast forward and rewind buttons but i reckon even she would have been stumped by the stupidity of the MUBI app.

so i couldn't watch several of the obscure films by a director whose work i like very much, louis malle who has been featured on MUBI recently, like 'calcutta' and 'the human condition'. on the other hand, the visually and aurally sumptuous 'ascenseur pour l'├ęchafaud' (1958), the whimsical, beautiful 'zazie dans le m├ętro', the bleak and thought provoking 'the fire within', and a number of others, play perfectly.

last night i hit the jackpot with a great documentary by louis malle from 1980s called 'god's country'. apart from one frozen moment, it was the first louis malle doco i've tried to watch which played all the way through on MUBI.

filmed in 1979 it is a format that has been copied numerous times since : send an affable foreign filmmaker to an obscure place and let them loose on the locals, in this case a little town in the middle of minnesota USA where almost everyone is of german origin and is either a farmer or the wife of a farmer. the only two that are not are the most interesting but they are all intriguing in one way or another, like a different species of human. six years of reaganomics later louis goes back for a reprise and finds almost everyone despondent.