Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Film Pairings – Living And Dying By The Code

We are our minds and captives of our lands, our culture and the stories we are told — at least those we believe.  Deadly Code (also released as Siberian Education), and The Drop show humans who cannot get beyond the limits of the code of the culture that shaped them. One film is set in the foreign country of Siberia, the other in a foreign place known as Brooklyn.

If author Dennis Lehane didn’t like The Drop, he would have no one to blame but himself.  He wrote the short story on which it was based, wrote the screenplay for the film and then a novel by the same name based on the movie. He squeezed every drop from the plot, as well he should. The Drop is flawless.  It is dark, moody, surprisingly twisty with correspondingly top-notch acting and cinematography. Tom Hardy portrays an easy-to-forget bartender in a tough part of Brooklyn. He is seemingly under the control of failed gangster boss James Gandolfini in what unfortunately turned out to be the actor’s last role. Naomi Rapaceis is a woman trying to survive abuse. Michaël R. Roskam directed this tough, expertly crafted crime film released last year.

While The Drop inhabits the insular culture of Brooklyn, The Deadly Code takes us to a place far more foreign, but also bound by the code of its culture. This is a bleak look at an occupied people seeking to hold on to their identity in the midst of the clash.  It is a story that epitomizes the constant clash of cultures throughout the world — all little tribes, separated by their own stories of the truth. Fear and hate cause endless victimization and retaliation. Though there seems to be some debate about the specific truth of this particular story, there appears to be a larger truth that unsurprisingly the film, though thought-provoking as it is, doesn’t or can’t express) and certainly can’t solve. John Malkovich does a masterful job of being keeper of the moral principles and storyteller for the oppressed culture.  Gabriele Salvatores directed the film released in 2013 based on an unpublished novel by Nicolai Linin. The Deadly Code is a good film on every level and provides a glimpse into a world we rarely see.

To accompany the films, there’s no need for anything high-end.  I’m tempted to suggest you blend the endless down & out bar scenes of The Drop with the snowy Siberian weather and ramshackle villages of Deadly Code by suggesting stale popcorn and Vodka.

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