Friday, December 07, 2007

L'ICEBERG


Movie of the week:

L’ICEBERG

I thought I’d give you all a break this week.

I know I’ve been featuring “borderline” movies lately. I’m sure you know what I mean. The kind of movie recommendations that threaten to alienate all my readers by saying “you should watch this movie ……. because I liked it ….. even though most people I know didn’t …….” Movies which you need to have just the right disposition or that particularly black sense of humor to enjoy. That may be true but if you do have those qualities, these is some great movies! So, I thought I’d give you all a break this week by recommending a film that anyone can enjoy without any effort.

OK Frank, what’s the catch? Does it have a subliminal psychotic undercurrent? Does everybody get eaten by hedgehogs at the end? Does everybody talk backwards so that all of the dialog at the beginning of the film corresponds to the scenes at the end and vice versa? I can see by the title that it’s about an iceberg but I don’t …………wait a minute! There’s a “L’” in front! It’s French, isn’t it?!

HA!! You’re wrong! It’s Belgian, not French…….although the language is indeed French. However there’s almost no dialog at all. Now I know when you view the trailer below, there’s all sorts of dialog, but ……………..well what the hell else are they suppose to put in a trailer? The trailer contains nearly all the dialog in the film. Also, even if you don’t bother reading the subtitles on the very few lines that do come up, you wouldn’t miss anything because the dialog is superfluous. In this sense, it’s very akin to films like Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times or the films of Jacques Tati like Play Time or M. Hulot’s Holiday. Those are older films and I was convinced they just didn’t make comedies like that anymore, but fortunately I was wrong.

First of all, it’s funny. Every scene is a setup for a visual gag that, although you may see it coming, is hilarious none-the-less. Although the setups may not be as elaborate as Play Time (that would be hard to do at any rate), they’re enough to make you laugh …..all the way through, and for the right reasons. The physical and visual comedy here has a firm footing in the circus. Film-makers writers and actors, Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel did indeed pay their dues in performance and the circus. This is where you need to be able to tell a story without words. This is their first feature film and they stuck to the very basic principles to tell a very simple story. This is a smart strategy because it ages well. Verbal jokes eventually get dated eventually, but slapstick clowning is eternal.

The story? Why it’s the simplest story in the world, one that has happened to all of us at one time or another. Fiona, middle-aged wife and mother, is the manager at a fast food restaurant. One night, as she’s closing shop, she’s accidentally locked overnight in a walk-in freezer. By the time they find her in the morning, she’s a Popsicle but otherwise physically OK. However her whole outlook on life changes. First, she comes to realize that neither her husband nor her children noticed that she was gone. Second, she acquires a fixation on all things cold – especially an iceberg. She has visions of an iceberg which she obsesses over in much the same way that Richard Dreyfuss obsessed over the mountain in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. She even makes a living iceberg sculpture with her bed sheets. When an opportunity presents itself, she’s off on a quest. Hilarity ensues. ……and face it. The best comedies are indeed the ones in which hilarity ensues.

L’ICEBERG is a simple story, simply told. It’s beautiful …….it’s funny ……….it’s art. What’s more, it’s a film that the whole family can enjoy together. With so little dialog, this could be an easy way to introduce your friends and family to the fascinating world of foreign language movies.

“But, Frank ……you’ve said again and again that this movie is funny. How do we know it really is funny? After all, you thought Little Otik was funny.” Well ……..it was! Watch it for yourself and tell me I’m wrong. “Maybe, Frank, you could compare it to some classical comedies?” OK, I’m not at all sure what ‘classical’ comedies are – so I’ll compare them to the top 10 comedies as listed by the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). So here are 10 ways L’ICEBERG is like or unlike other top IMDB comedies.

  1. Dr. Strangelove: L’ICEBERG does NOT have Peter Sellers playing multiple roles and it doesn’t blow up the world at the end (Damn! I just gave the ending away!).
  2. Amelie: Amelie is set against the backdrop of Paris, the City of Light. L’ICEBERG is set against ……….er ………. ocean? But both feature a female lead character.
  3. Safety Last!: Oh my god! I just realized – I’ve never seen this movie. Excuse me while I go and give a quick watch. ………………………………… thanks for waiting. Just as I thought - not as funny. (wait! Which one is not as funny?)
  4. Juno: This doesn’t belong on this list!!!???? It hasn’t even been released to the theaters yet.
  5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail: No fair! No film is funnier than Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But never-the-less, L’ICEBERG is still damn funny!
  6. Hababam sinifi sinifta kaldi: ????????????????????????? What the hell?
  7. Modern Times: L’ICEBERG is a lot like Modern Times ………except for the futuristic machinery ………and the political commentary ……………and Charlie Chaplin …………………. and all that no icebergs.
  8. Singin’ in the Rain: L’ICEBERG is not a musical. For many of you, this is a great advantage. However, L’ICEBERG has an inner song that Fiona hears. The mating song of icebergs! If you listen carefully on a still night, you can hear them sing. “Crack …..crack …….melt …….melt”
  9. Kind Hearts and Coronets: Personally, I didn’t find this movie all that funny. A bit funny, yes – but not top 10 level funny! L’ICEBERG, on the other hand, is definitely top 25 funny – maybe even top 17 funny.
  10. Forrest Gump: What the …..? Who the f#*k made up this list!!!!

OK, I get it. These are the best comedies, the best films that ARE also comedies. That’s not the same as the funniest comedies. L’ICEBERG, on the other hand, is among the funniest comedies. It has an innocence that’s refreshing. It almost makes you want to go to Belgium.

Enjoy L’ICEBERG. Crack, crack, melt, melt.

view trailer

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