At last a day off and the chance to watch some movies. In fact it started the night before when I saw Juno, but Friday was the day when I managed to see the new print of Bertolucci’s The Conformist and the new Fatih Akin, The Edge of Heaven.
I enjoyed The Conformist, especially because of the performance by Jean-Louis Trintignant and the sumptuous mise en scène. It is wonderful to return to the films of 1970 and to embrace a cinema that could mix a traditional story with a strong sense of atmosphere and no worries about narrative. But it is equally wonderful to watch a contemporary movie as riveting as Fatih Akin’s.
As an aside, I was not impressed by the cinema showing the film. The Curzon Soho is supposedly the premiere UK art cinema, but it isn’t a patch on the Cubby Broccoli or Pictureville at Bradford. I really don’t like a cinema where you have to look up to the screen (the Prince Charles off Leicester Square is the worst offender – but I haven’t been there for a while, perhaps it has changed?). Which means that is even more impressive that Auf der anderen seite can so exert its power. I’m now seriously considering how I can get to Istanbul by train.
I found this film much less aggressive and ‘hard’ than Akin’s previous film Head On, but equally moving. I hadn’t expected the Tom Tykwer style coincidences to be so important and I loved the sequence in which characters in a car pass a train carrying other important characters – two narratives interconnecting without the protagonists’ knowledge. Great too, to have such an open ending. I just hope that the deal with Sky Box Office pays off and that more people get to see the film this way – I just worry that it won’t get seen in cinemas by more traditional arthouse audiences if the digital pay per view release cuts the number of film prints in distribution.
A useful review article on the film by Thomas Elsaesser is on the Film Comment website.
The film somehow reminded me of Inarittu’s films, but made on a more personal level. Oh man, waiting to see Conformist…
A film that uses interweaving narratives (which one blogger http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/the-edge-of-heaven/) calls ‘implausible coincidences’ and so misses the point of melodrama) to suggest how ‘globalisation’ – in the sense of increased migration – has made the world a smaller place.
Regarding influences on the film the previous comment cites Inarittu’ Roy – Tykwer, the blogger Haggis and Elsaesser – Fassbinder. Diverse references are sit easily in the film. Focusing on the relationship between Germany and Turkey, and so the EC and an ‘eastern’ nation trying to join, Edge of Heaven mingles the personal (relationships between lovers and parents) with the political; the focus is on the former as the political conflict in Turkey (between Kurds and the government as well as secularists and Islamists) is a backdrop and not explained.
Great to see Hannah Schygulla: the sexy Maria Braun (Fassbinder again) now an equally charismatic matron. And, as a post on IMDB notes, portraying a lesbian relationship in Turkish cinema is a progressive act.
I didn’t find the film completely gripping but it does resonate afterwards so watch it.