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Kilburnlad

Clouds of Sils Maria


Clouds of Sils Maria

This film was advertised in one of my regular email notifications from the BBC. When I saw that it starred Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart it piqued my interest. So we launched iPlayer and settled down to watch the story unfold. Both of us were a bit tired, and this is not a film to watch unless you are prepared to give it undivided attention. In fact, it's probably one of those films that deserves at least two viewings. I must admit that at times I found myself lost.

Binoche plays Maria Enders, an international film star and stage actress. She is known for playing the part of Sigrid in both the film and stage versions of Maloja Snake, by the Swiss playwright Wilhelm Melchior. But this was twenty years earlier, and we now meet her travelling on a train with her young assistant, Valentine, played by Kristen Stewart. They are on the way to Zurich to accept an award on behalf of the now elderly Melchior, after which they plan to visit him in his remote Swiss alpine home in Sils Maria. I found the dialogue sometimes difficult to catch as Maria and Valentine spoke on the train, there being a lot of 'train' noise to contend with. At least when Maria took phone calls in French we had sub-titles! During the train journey they learn of Melchior's death.

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Beasts of the Southern Wild

We recorded this film a considerable time ago as it had received very good reviews, although I didn't know much about the story. Yesterday evening we finally got around to watching it.

It is said to be a response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster although the setting is fictional. It is certainly an unusual film that verges on fantasy, but I've no doubt that there are bayou communities in Louisiana that exist in such poverty and are at such risk from rising sea levels.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

The star of the film is Hushpuppy, brilliantly played by Quvenzhané Wallis, who was 6 at the time of the filming. At the age of 9 she became the youngest Best Actress nominee in the history of the Oscars. In the film she lives with her father, Wink, in a ramshackle home raised above the ground in deference to the constant risk of flooding. Wink and Hushpuppy seem to have a fraught relationship as they literally just survive in the hostile environment, not that either of them complains too much. Their neighbours are equally bizarre, although apparently reasonably content with their way of life. As if things aren't difficult enough, a major storm is forecast and everybody makes preparations as best they can, although in the aftermath the raised homes prove to be largely inadequate against the freak weather.

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Amour

We didn't get to the cinema last week as it gets a bit busy during school holidays. We did, however, watch a film we had recorded: Amour, directed by Michael Haneke and starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.

Amour

This is an exceptional film. Georges and Anne are retired music teachers in their 80s living in a rather splendid Paris apartment. Anne suffers a stroke and the story, which takes place entirely within the apartment, is that of how Georges cares for her as she deteriorates and ultimately progresses into dementia. In accordance with her wishes, he won't allow her to go to a hospital or care home, a fact that confuses and frustrates their daughter, whose help Georges rejects.

This is a story so human, so real, that it feels at times almost like a fly-on-the-wall documentary. But that would understate its artistic brilliance. A richly deserved Palme d'Or winner at Cannes, this is directing and acting at its best. Despite the subject matter, it isn't without humour, largely thanks to Georges.

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