ThePingOfPong

Pieces on Film, Prose and Music by a Nigerian

Tag: Netherlands

DAY 10: STORM BOUND

 

 

The Netherlands’ second movie at the Festival, Storm Bound, is set at sea. It is based on a Dutch book, The Cabin Boys of Bontekoe, which is extremely popular in that land. As the book was written in the colonial era, it is said to reflect that particular worldview, with the Dutch merchants depicted as superior to the Indonesians they meet on the journey. The 21st century is no longer comfortable with such portrayals hence; the cinematic adaptation receives major editing. Still, some traces of that worldview still made it to the screen. Said book is based on the real life journals of the eponymous Captain, so perhaps it was inevitable that some uncomfortable scenes are present in this adaptation.

Storm Bound tells the story of a group of boys-belligerent Hajo, calm Rolf and simple Padde- who embark on a voyage that will lead them to the cusp of manhood as they encounter jealousy, treachery, death, love and kindness aboard the ill-fated ship.

The film features all the stock characters that have made the sea adventure story what it is: drunken men, benevolent captain, a manic character, mutinous sailors and the death of a beloved character. That is not to say, there are no spontaneous moments, the actors playing the three teenagers are competent especially the simple minded Padde, a sort of younger Seth Rogen character, the seascape is also captured beautifully.

For all the onscreen drama, it was the one in the cinema hall that proves memorable: the moment came when the Dutch crew happens on a land where the dark skinned natives are given mirrors and some other superfluous items in exchange for a chicken and bananas. In a hall consisting of several Caucasians amidst Nigerians, the loud silence and quiet giggles were inescapable.

We all took it in good faith. After all, it is only a film. Or is it?

DAY 6: NOT THE GREATEST DINNER EVER

By choosing The Dinner Club, The Netherlands has perhaps chosen the most conventional of the films screened so far at the European Film Festival.

Karen and Michel have just moved into a highbrow area where they join an exclusive club comprising rich couples. Soon there is trouble as two members of the group die in mysterious circumstances. Upon discovering both deceased members were involved in extramarital affairs, Karen turns investigator unearthing several misdeeds among the members of the club.

The Dinner Club incorporates several elements- recalling Sliver in its use of sex with a suspicious character as plot device, and Stepford Wives in its well behaved wives depiction- but it never rises from the conventions. It is much too light to be a criticism of the suburbs and/or capitalism and too mistimed and severely underwhelming to be a good thriller.

If the classifications, for the variety the film festival seeks, are taken broadly and perhaps facetiously as: the good, the bad and the ugly; one cannot begrudge this particular film its selection for the festival, though it unequivocally falls outside of ‘the good,’ some space can be made for it between the last two adjectives. Quite obviously, a lot of thought was not put into the selection process. Someone must have thought, “It is only a film festival, what’s the fuss?” and then decided on a girls’ night out flick that does not engage and consistently fails to hit the right notes.

Still, it shows a variety to European cinema. And that may well be the greatest thing about it.

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