Wednesday, May 26, 2010

#6: Framing the Everyday: "Bicycle Thieves" (1948) and "Chop Shop (2008)

I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long! I also haven't been reading much of the blogs I follow, sorry. I've just found work after graduation, and that as well as family matters (along with my obsession over a little show called Lost) consumed much of my time. I'm going to keep this post short, because I'm quite tired at the moment.

Here is the sixth double feature recommendation I have for you: Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette), directed by Vittorio De Sica, and Chop Shop, directed by Ramin Bahrani. Though separated by sixty years and set on different continents, these two films share an interest in hardworking people, in the mundane details surrounding the plot. De Sica is seen as one of the pioneers of the neorealism movement, which fostered movies that sought to show "reality" by dramatizing but not glamorizing the struggles that middle- to lower-class people face in life every day. Bahrani's film can be seen as an extension of this movement into the twenty-first century.

Posters from Tinypic and here.

Both films focus on a family that scrapes up money from whatever job they have in order to survive. While Bicycle Thieves (or, The Bicycle Thief) centers on an adult father and a young son, Chop Shop follows the plight of a pair of teenagers, an older sister and younger brother. This difference in generations means that each film contains a particular variation on the themes of responsibility and lost innocence. The plots in these films emerge slowly, taking their time to rise out of the circumstances. As for visuals, Chop Shop manages to illustrate the grayish landscape of the titular setting with vibrant color, while Bicycle Thieves gives grace to the mundane settings through lighting and composition. I'd say watch Bicycle Thieves first, to see where particular filmic interests originated.

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