Monday, February 20, 2006

The Bicycle Thief

It seems that all I ever talk about lately are movies that I have watched or things that I have read. This is probably because I am umemployed and have lots of free time to occupy and never want to leave the house because it's cold and so I never get any physical activity which has the effect of making me tired and depressed and all I do is watch things on my tv. I don't know how to incorporate physical activity into my life because I really hate being outside in the cold. Tomorrow, I am going to try to go to some museums and spend my day that way, walking around, and maybe even interacting with other human beings. And of course, Tuesday there are two job interviews that will hopefully provide me with a way to occupy my body and time, enable me to get paid money, and hopefully alleviate some of this ennui that is snowballing into something worse with each idle day in my apartment.

I mean, I am not living in a country that just suffered a brutal defeat in World War II and is coping with massive unemployment and poverty, but still in this current mental state, I felt an affinity, a connection with Vittorio De Sica's characters. I have had a couple of bikes stolen in my life and know how crushing a loss that is, and when Antonio's bike gets stolen, my heart crumbles. This movie has such a simple plot and yet it is so emotional. I was way more invested in this movie than I anticipated being. It reminds me of Children of Heaven and The White Ballon (both Iranian new wave films) that also have fairly simple plots that involve kids and yet are such dramatic movies.

I was anticipating a Pee-Wee's Big Adventure nice, happy ending, but I guess that would probably go against much of what Italian neo-realism was about, and that refusal to gloss over the economic realities is surely what made this movie so good. I have been thinking a lot about Bubble the past two days, and this is part of what I have been thinking about, film and poverty. Bubble is a rare, contemporary film in that it involves poverty. You sort of forget watching most media products that most people live their lives spending a good amount of time working stupid jobs and talking about these stupid jobs and worrying about money and bills. It is something that isn't even on the radar anymore, it seems. The last big tv show that seemed at all grounded in the economic realities of most people was Roseanne. And maybe Soderbergh isn't the best person to be making films about poverty, but I find it really admirable, this six film deal he has with HDNet. Bubble is the first of these. He has stated that he wants to make a cycle and do the same filmmaking process for the other films, to have a loose plot, pick a location that is off the cinematic radar, and cast it with local people from that town, using their life stories to flesh out the plot. I am glad that someone is doing this, trying to ground their films in real American locations. I am really excited to see the other films in this distribution deal.

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