The. A. Margot. School. A.

February 4th, 2015 – I keep finding more of the reviews I’ve posted to Facebook – yes this is TWO YEARS OLD now.

OK, so next in the epic list of (good) films … the rag rug grows by the digital minute!

Thanks to everyone who mentioned Mads Mikkelsen. I don’t have a TV, so of course I’m completely oblivious to the presence of this man on screen as psychopath, however I took up people’s recommendations and this is what I’ve been watching. Mads is my new favourite actor – bad luck Johnny Depp!

The Hunt, Thomas Vinterberg (2012).
I’m not so sure I could watch Mads in gruesome things, but his portrayal of this character was so moving and believable. As the rating sticker says this film certainly has ‘strong themes’. A school teacher fighting for custody of his son, is accused of the sexual abuse of a young girl. The film is about his struggle to prove his innocence. Top film, if ever so tragic.

A Royal Affair, Nikolaj Arcel (2012).
Shakespeare: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Hamlet (1601). When too much Mads is barely enough! He is so good in this, and this one really tickled my fancy for history of the period and challenges to the grip on power of the church. What an amazing history Denmark has had – Shakespeare was well ahead of his time – 150 odd years or history really does repeat! Beautiful period piece that reminded me of Dangerous Liaisons.

Margot at the Wedding, Noah Baumbach (2007).
I can’t remember why this was recommended, but it paired really well with Jack Black in School of Rock, which apparently I needed to watch because I play the, ‘well, cellooooo’! This film is icky in a proper Noah Baumbach way and was a Nicole Kidman film I didn’t mind (I normally can’t stand her acting – but this role she played extremely well). Margot (Nicole) is annoyingly smug and crazy when she turns up at her sister’s place. Betrothed Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Malcolm (Jack Black) get completely thrown by Margot’s presence and everything that was going to be slowly falls apart. A bit of a strange ending, but there you have it. Thanks again Noah!

School of Rock, Richard Linklater (2003).
What can one say? Hilarious in a pathetic kind of way. Classic Jack Black. From the crowd-surfing into nothing to the Principal chatting up the rock musicians at the end.  I’d seen my “well celloooooo” quote quite early on. The comment rivals “couldn’t you choose a smaller instrument to play” in my experience when introducing myself as a cellist. I wasn’t going to watch the rest, but hey, there was rag rug to finish, and I didn’t feel like watching a subtitled film (takes my eyes off the weaving).

Un homme et une femme: A Man and a Woman, Claude Lelouch (1966)
And a French film with subtitles to finish off. It is quite hard to believe that this film is one year off 50 years old.   What a classic French film. What amazingly well-adjusted boarding school children. What is it about train scenes in France? That’s all. There is not much to say – it’s a French film, I’m in heaven automatically. Apparently Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant re-united for A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later in 1986. Another one for the film list.

Being. Certified. After. The. Edge

Aside

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.