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.