Wednesday, September 10, 2008

DJG / The Band's Visit

The Band's Visit * * * * *
Directed by: Eran Kolirin / 2007

Connecting the acne scar dots, I can easily jump fifteen steps back to the strange land of high school band. Disorganized, dysfunctional and destructive to every bar of music and ear put in our path, I at least give our music instructor high marks for putting up with us. One for all the stress we must have caused on her job and the other for getting us to and from parades and concert venues without getting lost. Though, I'm quite positive we would have gotten lost if we had to travel from Egypt to Israel to play a concert, like in the pitch perfect film, "The Band's Visit". Though at times they act like socially awkward teen geeks, the band in this 2007 Israeli film is not an undercooked high school band, rather a professional outfit of grown men in matching powder blue uniforms and rolly tote bags called The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra. The day before serenading the opening of an Arab arts center, the out-of-state-and-country band haphazardly is dumped off in a small town in the middle of a desert without a clue. Confused, misguided and worried of missing their gig and sheer embarrassment they stop to regroup and eat at a local diner, and in full uniform. The diner owner and her friends offer the blue boy brigade places to stay so they can get on a bus to their destination in the morning. Both parties end up getting more than a sleep-over as they all learn from and help one another. It's a charming little series of brother-sisterhood actions and awkward leanings, fumbles and reach-outs with situations and people that would have never been put onto paths if it weren't for a band getting lost. There is some great depth in character and thought that carries off the screen through these interactions. One noted line that Chad and I talk about almost daily goes like this, "People don't seem to appreciate things like great music because they are too busy finding worth in money, business, jobs...people can be stupid though. Yep, I guess they can be stupid." It's a conversation that is not trying to be above the audience or those who don't enjoy great culture, rather it's just an observation that speaks so true of humanity in that we just can't sit back and enjoy things from the rat race shells we run. Not only scene-for-scene thought-provoke and a shot-for-shot photographic waltz, "The Band's Visit" is a well-crafted simple and subtle story, rich in joy, humanity and heart. I can see why it swept the Israeli Film Academy as it tugs at all strings, hits every button and can be related with even for those out there who think that cultural divides lose them along the way. This is a pure example of how movies and the music of life can bring different people together in delight, even if you can't play a tune.


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