Friday, April 8, 2011

Certified Copy is, well, certifiably good

Of Landmark’s Theatres Detroit's current screenings I have seen only one Certified Copy, which was shown last fall at the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF). This is a very good film and not least because it stars Juliette Binoche and William Shimell (one of UK’s leading operatic baritones). In the film Elle (Binoche), a foreigner, owns an art gallery in a Tuscan village. One day she attends a lecture by visiting academic James Miller (Shimell) who has just published a book about authenticity in art. This subject ends up becoming a metaphor for the film’s story as a whole. Enough said.  Certified Copy is a fascinating movie which is intimate in a number of ways.  The plot focuses essentially on a prolonged conversation as the two people - who appear attracted to one another - tour the Tuscan town and countryside, and the evolving (such as it is) relationship between this man and woman.  This is Abbas Kiarostami’s first film made outside his native Iran and it’s a winner. The theme is highly Hitchcockian and, yes, Kafkaesque. It plays with identity, memory and it challenges the audience as much as the characters. At the Maple.

Upcoming at Landmark are two French Canadian films: Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats (originally opening April 22, now April 29) and Denis Villeneuve's Incendies.....Dolan’s previous film – made when he was only 20 - was I Killed My Mother (2009), a story of generational identity and culture clash wrapped in a power play between a  young homosexual and his mother. Dolan said the story is partly autobiographical.  Now he is quickly back with Heartbeats, an official selection at Cannes and Toronto. The film is about an increasingly tense ménage-a-trois where the characters’ seeming reach outstrips (literally!) their grasp. Dolan stars in both films.....Further ahead on May 27 Incendies (Scorched), which was up for best foreign Oscar this year and won best Canadian film last year at Toronto, opens. The film takes the viewer from Canada (Quebec) to Lebanon and the Middle East conflict in an ancestral journey that packs an emotional wallop.

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