Recently watched DVD's from Netflix:
The Girl in the Cafe (2005) I chose this one because interesting things happen in cafe's. Lawrence, [played by Bill Nighy], is a civil servant helping a political team by preparing statistics for the G-8 conferences. He is detached from the rest of the world until meeting Gina in a cafe. As they subsequently date, Lawrence shares with Gina the information about world poverty and the G-8 millenial goals to deal with it that he thinks will get pushed off the agenda in the upcoming meeting. Lawrence's detachment does not mean he doesn't care, and his silence does not mean that he doesn't have many things to say. Gina, on the other hand, has a refreshing candor and spirit with an eloquence that supplies where Lawrence lacks, to Lawrence's horror. As a romance, the movie is predictable (What? We have to share the same room in this posh Icelandic hotel? Everything is booked on the island? Horrors!) and Gina, as shy as she supposed to be, isn't shy about whipping off her shirt after Lawrence tenderly kisses her on the cheek. (Stop at the kiss, guys, that was good enough.) As a social commentary, Gina's observant quips and final reprimand echos of Bono-esque speeches I have heard in the past (Gina! Don't do that finger snapping thing!).
Despite it all, I liked the movie. I liked the fact that Gina didn't fit in at the G-8 convention--like, who let this young person in here? Her presence was symbolic how the decisions made would affect generations to come. The message was true, that people in power are responsible for people who haven't got power at all. Bill Nighy, played Davey Jones in the "Pirates of the Caribbean". I rented this movie to find out what he was like without the octopus face.
Bagdad Cafe (1988) I've been wanting to watch this one for years. I was too busy as a single person to see it when it first came out. And never saw the movie on video, until I saw that Netflix had it in DVD. It's a weird little movie with weird little characters, and it all kind of grows on you. The lives of two women in the Mojave desert parallel until they intersect at a dusty lonely truck stop outside of Vegas. One is a German tourist,Jasmin, a stout frau with flaming red hair all buttoned up in a tweedy German suit and funny little feathered hat. The other is a skinny, angry and overwelmed African-American, Brenda, who is trying to run a motel/restaurant /gas station in the middle of nowhere. They are both starting over after kicking their husbands out of their lives. Jasmin starts to clean up the place and bumps up against Brenda's live and let live lifestyle. Jasmin also welcomes Brenda's kids, encouraging them to do homework and giving them order as well as security. She wins Brenda over, and after awhile, the truckstop becomes a lively place where Jasmin does simple slight of hand magic tricks to entertain the truckers. But the place and the people have an effect on Jasmin as well. She becomes free of the restrictive German clothing in more than one way. She poses for an artist and a progression occurs symbolic of what is going on inside of Jasmin. The art is both funny and nude--so beware--but not erotic. Well, in my point of view. Men have another, I'm sure.
I like the movie because there is a culture clash, a racial clash, a values clash and a socioeconomic clash, but amazing things happen because of it. We learn from people who are different than we are, from places different than where we come from--the tourist became more than a visitor. And we learn from people who enter our worlds and bring new ideas. And I like how beauty is portrayed--Frau Jasmin is not a thin young chick by any means. Roger Ebert calls her fat. His review is pretty good if you want to give it a read.