Antonin Svoboda

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Darwin's Nightmare Review


Excellent
At first blush, the title of Hubert Sauper's documentary Darwin's Nightmare seems to refer to the Nile Perch, a species of fish that was introduced to Tanzania's Lake Victoria decades ago. In the following years, the predatory Nile Perch has eaten and eliminated all other species of fish in what is the world's largest tropical lake. However, as the film unfolds, it becomes clear that in Sauper's vision the real predator, Darwin's true nightmare, isn't the Nile Perch or any species of fish, but rather globalization, a force greater than nature that consumes and destroys with systematic efficiency.

The film begins with a shot of a mammoth cargo jet sailing through the air and casting its spectral shadow on the still blue waters beneath it -- a visual metaphor that gathers meaning and force as the movie progresses. The cargo jet, piloted by a crew of Russians, will land in the town of Mwanza, fill its hold with 55 tons of filleted Nile Perch, and return to Europe where the fish will be eaten and enjoyed by millions of people -- all part of the daily routine of international commerce. From a distance of 30,000 feet, nothing seems wrong with this picture, but as Sauper and his crew bring the details into focus, the horrors of poverty, war, disease, and prostitution emerge.

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The Edukators Review


OK
Is there any room for social activism in this day of lockstep capitalism? How does one militate against a system when one is too busy just trying to make ends meet? Indeed, the machinery of what one character in Hans Weingartner's The Edukators calls a "capitalist dictatorship" depends on the subjugation of the weak and the poor -- those mostly likely to revolt -- so that the rich can remain in power. It's not a revolutionary observation, but it remains a provocative one and forms the basis of Weingartner's seriocomic parable, which he co-wrote with Katharina Held.

In such an unjust society, what's a pretty girl to do? If you're the hapless Julie (Julia Jentsch), you scrape by as a waitress in an upscale restaurant, struggling to pay your rent, chafing all the while under the glare of your snide superiors. Julie's lot only gets worse when she's booted from her apartment and, soon after, from her job. Luckily, her boyfriend, Peter (Stipe Erceg) offers to put her up in his hovel -- one he already shares with Jan (Daniel Brühl), his close friend and political confidante.

Continue reading: The Edukators Review

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