Being. Certified. After. The. Edge

May 23rd, 2015 Part 2

So, the films for the week:

Being There, Hal Ashby (1979). If you’ve seen Harold and Maude, this will come as no surprise. The premise is similar to a cross between Forest Gump and The Truman Show and leaves you questioning what is real anyway. Just because you’re ‘there’, it doesn’t mean you have the same take on reality. A really clever and funny exploration of the ruse of capitalism and the trappings of wealth laid bare by a simple gardener. It was strange seeing Peter Sellers in a serious role (one he asked for and got) and it was great seeing Shirley McLaine. Whilst the film looks a little dated now, the portrayal of wealth in it and After the Wedding (below) look strangely similar.

Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostmi, (2009). This film once again plays with the viewer’s sense of reality. This time some features of long-term relationships such as expectations are explored. I could watch Juliette Binoche forever although it all felt a little too scripted about the art theme of ‘originality’, yet refreshingly original and ambiguous in the true relationship of the two main characters. Maybe there was something lost in the translation between French, Italian and English. William Shimmel was a new one to me, but strangely familiar. He is a highly experienced and accomplished opera singer, however looks to have moved into films – the latest one I’ve seen being Amour.

After the Wedding, Susanne Bier (2007). The best ‘wedding’ genre film I’ve seen, with a close second going to Monsoon Wedding. What a powerful and real film. Set between India and Denmark (with the as-recommended amazing Mads Mikkelsen). The themes of the previous two films come together here – the trappings of wealth and the features of relationships all unfolding with a good pace to reveal the truth of a complex situation.

The Squid and the Whale, Noah Baumbach (2005). Laura Linney is fast becoming my favourite female US actress, not least because I just learnt she gave birth at 49! She seems to pick the most quirky and philosophical films, and does an amazing job with all of them. Her English accent in Driving Lessons was fantastic. So this film, in the long line of her great films breaks my heart for it’s bittersweet content and humour. For me it captured perfectly how we tell the truths that justify our position, the way we repeat the same mistakes over and over, and don’t understand that we are causing the pain in our lives, and most powerfully how parents indoctrinate their children. A really uncomfortable yet valuable film. Jeff Daniels and William Baldwin were hilariously type-cast, and the latter’s tennis-playing ‘brother’ smacked of Wes Anderson … who surprise, surprise was producer. Go Wes!

The Edge of Heaven, Fatih Akin, (2007). WOW. There isn’t an issue of ‘the day’ that this film does not cover. It is such a poignant portrayal of human beings, their foibles, passions and freedoms. In some ways it mirrors the coincidences and seeming serendipitous of After the Wedding and Certified Copy, asking the question, are we connected after all? But despite the search, no-one is truly successful in completing the picture. The characters lives are intertwined, yet they are oblivious to this. It is such a clever story and acted beautifully. Thank you Fatih Akin.

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