Given my recent comments on LOTR: ROTK, one might think this was the film that I enjoyed least among all those that are regularly appearing on the Critics' Top 10 lists that are coming out this week. Especially since I don't see that many movies. Alas. That dis-tinction goes to To Be and To Have, the documentary about a French teacher in a rural one-room schoolhouse. Here, just like I think the difference in reaction to LOTR: ROTK can be explained mainly by my not having read the books, I think the difference with 2B&2H can be explained mainly by my not speaking French. I am sure all the darnedest things the kids say would have come across as much more cute had I not been reading them off subtitles. Instead, it was boring; the only reason that I stayed until the end is that I wasn't seated on an aisle. I saw the film with my friend Erin in Chicago, and afterwards we agreed: you know there is something wrong when you are watching a documentary about real children, and you are sitting there secretly hoping that one of them gets killed or abused or something just to liven things up.
Update, Sunday: I saw Lost in Translation yesterday. Now, there's a great movie, which goes to show that I am not surly toward all things cinematic, or surly toward all films where not much happens. Even though not much happens in Lost in Translation, things don't happen at a good pace, and it also has the attention-sustaining advantages of considerable emotional and thematic depth. If the French kids in To Be and To Have had been flown to Japan and set loose in a hotel with Scarlett Johansson, I'm sure I would have found 2B&2H more interesting.