Etre Et Avoir / Whale Rider

After a fairly long dry spell there are finally some movies out worth watching.

Etre Et Avoir is ridiculously, wonderfully sweet, probably the best thing I’ve seen this year since City of God, and certainly the best film I’ve ever seen about the teaching profession. You know how you can be fairly cynical, and rather wary of the ubiquitious attempts of various segments of the media industry to use sappy moments, pretty flowers, soaring Enya music, fuzzy animals, and cute kids to manipulate you into some particular emotion, but sometimes a moment just gets you with its overwhelming adorability and you catch yourself in an unreserved “AWWWWWWWW!”? Etre Et Avoir is two hours worth of those moments, mostly involving cute kids and a lovely, lovely teacher who we couldn’t believe could possibly be single (as he appeared to be), given that he was intelligent, sensitive, good-looking, and actually a real person rather than some perfect teacher a scriptwriter made up. Unless you detest being reduced to a puddle of utterly endeared goo, and are unwilling to have your faith in the nobility of discovering and realizing vocation reawakened, watch this – and bring a teacher you love with you.

Whale Rider involves a simple, touching story told extremely well, excellent actors, an appropriately evocative Lisa Gerrard soundtrack and lots of shots of whales. What’s not to like? If the last film about Maoris you saw was Once Were Warriors, rest assured that this one is considerably less harrowing, although it certainly does have its tearjerking moments. (And if you’re Singaporean, please try not to crack up when you learn the name of the ancient saviour of the tribe is Paikea. I’m sure it means something in the Maori language that isn’t juvenile delinquent.)

I’m also curious about Buffalo Soldiers, but probably only because the whole Saving Private Lynch myth tends to annoy me, and watching a film that does actually dare to portray the US military in a bad light would irrationally soothe that annoyance. Then again, I could spend my £5 worth of America disgust on a Noam Chomsky book instead, which would be a rather more cerebral form of protest.