I’ve been lazy and pushed off more write ups.
Two sisters live in a small Danish village continuing their father’s work as a Protestant priest with a congregation that is aging and dwindling. The sisters do their best to provide for the community and bring meager meals to the elderly. One day a Babette, a refugee from Paris, arrives at their door with a note from a former suitor saying she would be a good housekeeper. Babette learns from the sisters and quickly becomes a part of the community by taking many of the chores. After many years, Babette wins a French lottery and convinces the sisters to let her cook a traditional French dinner before she returns to Paris.
In trying to right that short summary, it emphasized how awkward I felt the plot was. There is an extended flashback that details the back story of how each sister had a suitor that was refused based on their father’s wishes. Neither seemed to have much chemistry with the respective sister, but both reemerge in the story to have an impact. The entire thing is fairly drab until Babette starts showing her true self and preparing for the meal. The ending is heartwarming, but requires you to sit through a lot before you get there.
Au Hasard Balthazar
Tow parallel stories are told of a young girl and a donkey she befriended as a child. Neither have a happy life and deal with their troubles in their own way. This movie isn’t about flash or in your face action. Everything is very minimal and going through the motions. However, this makes the scenes that are filled with emotion stand out. I felt a stronger connection with Balthazar (the donkey), but understanding his sorrows gives you more insight into Marie’s life.
The Ballad of Narayama
A remote mountain village that rich with traditions and superstitions. At the age of 70, a person is carried up into the mountain and left to die. The second born sons are not allowed to wed and must help their family grow their crops. The film focuses on one family who has a 69 year old grandmother, her two sons (the eldest had to become the head when his father ran away), and a younger generation that no longer has a mother because she died giving birth to the youngest daughter. The movie follows a year in the life of this family and the village they live in. There are hard times and tough decisions to be made. There are a few brutal scenes that are the result of this situations and cultural customs. And all of this is pieced together with clips animals in nature doing the various things they do in their life.
The Band Wagon
Fred Astaire plays a washed-up movie star who has returned to New York City to try and restart his career by doing a Broadway musical. Lots of people and egos are brought together to produce a play that ends up being an interpretation of Faust for the stage. The plot is fairly simple as personalities clash, only to find out later that everyone does like everyone. Since the plot doesn’t have a lot to it, most of the acting scenes feel like they are just there as a way to get to the next song or dance number.