French Movies: I Also Saw
Back-ish! Last year, when I’m stumped with some of the movies I watched, I just left it alone, which means that at times I’ll forget that I saw Uncle Boonmee Who Recalls His Past Lives, a brain fart some of you might not relate to because apparently Boonmee‘s still rolling out in theatres. Not this year, just in case. But I’m still stumped so I’m combining the two French-y movies that I saw before going on vacation.
Certified Copy is the most fun I’ve had in a theatre for the past month or two, because it was the second emptiest theatre I’ve been to. I thought I was going to be alone, just like I was while watching Ballast when, these two women in their late 20’s came in, walked out when they found out the movie was in Italian, then I yelled, ‘It’s in English now!’ and they walked back in. We still couldn’t figure out whether Juliette Binoche and William Shimmell were together, frustrating one woman who was a Binoche fan – she’s only seen Chocolat. But it frustrated me more that the trailer gave the secret away. Think of this film as In the Mood for Love but the couple, on their day off, can’t dress and they’re more committed to make-believe, whether in love or having philosophical arguments. Like the book written by Shimmell’s character, it puts the facsimile of cinema into question. What makes their relationship less legitimate than ‘real couples’ in other movies? Why can’t people be comfortable and emotionally connect with friendly strangers? Directed by Iranian Abbas Kiarostami, this film is less almanac-y and more emotionally voluminous than his earlier work.
Of Gods and Men is its own brand of meditative. The first twenty-five minutes show the routine of French Trappist monks until terrorists kill a few Bosnian workers in the area. The movie then becomes a time bomb, disturbing its audience by showing the monks continue with their little duties, pretending that these attacks might soon pass. They can leave but worry that without them, the terrorists might graze the town that they’re based. When the abbey’s doctor keeps to the Hippocratic oath and heal one of the nice enough terrorists, it angers the Algerian government. Cue the personal tests, the infighting between the docile head Brother Christian (Lambert Wilson) and passionate Brother Christophe (Olivier Rabourdin), who eventually help each other in their spiritual troubles. There’s something beautifully sterile about the film’s compositions, making me think that it would have been just good if it was in black and white, one of the last scenes, showing the abbey covered in snow, reminiscent of White Ribbon. But colour it is, as we have to experience its immediacy, the film depicting North Africa in 1996.
- Movie Review: Certified Copy (blogcritics.org)