CONTENTS 4 - 7
La La Land
A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress
8 - 11
It’s Only the End of the World A terminally ill writer returns home to tell his family he is dying
12 - 13
There is a special clause in the factory workers contract by the new management.
14 - 15
At War with Love
A tender love story intertwines with the allies conquering Sicily.
16 - 19
A claustrophobic survival thriller set beneath the sea.
20 - 23
A Silent Voice
A young girl with impaired hearing transfers to another school where she is bullied by her classmates.
24 - 27
Story of a couple whose Relationship begins to turn sour during performing “Death of a Salesman”.
28 - 30
MbM meets the star of At War With Love.
The Salesman (Poster) La La Land (Poster)
PHOTO CREDITS: © Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: 1 LIONSGATE: 1,4,5,6,7,32 CURZON ARTIFICIAL EYE: 8,9,10,11,24,25,26,27,31 KOCH MEDIA: 12,13 01 DISTRIBUTION LIMITED: 14,15 CHAMBERR FILMS:16,17,18,19 ANIME LTD: 20,21,22,23
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We would like to thank the following people for providing images and their help for this magazine: Clare Leach at PremierComms.com Fabrice Ouakinine at PremierComms.com Elle Atamney at Fletch.FM Sadari Cunningham at Fetch.FM and to PIF 2
EDITORIAL Hello film lovers once again, here we are with the March issue and before we look at what awaits you in another star-spangled edition, let us reflect on an event which should have been a celebratory event in Hollywood’s calendar but as it was turned out to be the most embarrassing and talked about night for all the wrong reasons. Yes, I refer to the Oscars. Before a packed auditorium at the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, seating every A-list star in the business, and just as the red envelope is opened by Warren Beatty – something went terribly wrong, and he handed the envelope to Faye Dunaway, who announced the winner to be La La Land and then one of the producers of the film said that it was wrong…because it was not the name on the card…but was instead Moonlight. Everyone seemed to be blaming everyone else but the real culprit was one of the custodians of Price Waterhouse, who have the envelopes. That young man happened to be distracted by the stars and the names he was busy calling his friends about, and handed the wrong envelope to Warren. He has obviously been fired and Price Waterhouse issued a full apology for the mistake. The Oscars will never be the same and I, like so many others switched off the programme once I heard the winner announced as Best Film to be LA LA LAND. It was the obvious and odds on favourite choice as it was the Best Film, that was until the Academy decided to be politically correct and not to upset or to seem that they were favouring most ‘white’ awards, as they were accused last year, they had to show that MOONLIGHT was the winner. What rules will the Academy be persuaded to change next year? For those of you who loved La Land MbM once again lauds over one of the greatest films of all-time, a film that people keep going back to see again and again because they love it and because it so beautifully made. This month’s cover is Emma Stone who won the Best Actress Oscar. There are images from the film inside too and incidentally this is not for streaming but for screening at your local cinema…yes, it is still being shown. As always there are further film reviews inside: It’s Only the End of the World, The Chamber, A Silent Voice, The Salesman, and a 2nd review of La La Land. We have reviews from the annual Cinema Made in Italy; two films: 7 Minutes and At War with Love. The star of the latter is Pif and I am pleased to say that he spent some precious time to speak with me at Cine Lumiere and like most filmmakers he is a movie buff and he was a joy to talk to. Enjoy the read
Brian Mills Magazine Editor
Paul Ridler Magazine Designer
LA LA LAND Directed by Damien Chazelle Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons. It was Friday 7th October last year when I saw LardLa Land at a press screening at the Odeon Leicester Square on the 3 day of the BFI London Film Festival. As the credits closed on its 128 minutes, my mind was already replaying the visuals that were still running while my heart fluttered with joy and my body reacted in the one way that tells me that I have experienced something very special: with an emotional shudder. I could not have spoken to anyone because I was still heart and soul in the movie. Rarely does a film come along that is so beautifully made that it makes you want to sing and dance with happiness at seeing it. It is charismatically charming, effervescently enervating, inspiringly innovating and magnificently magical. Damien Chazelle is a movie buff and he signposts his film with references to movie classics: Casablanca, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, Singin’ in the Rain, Funny Face, The Band Wagon, Seventh Heaven, Beau Travail and many more that Chazelle could cite from his encyclopaedic memory of movies. The film is separated into seasons for Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia’s (Emma Stone) heart-breaking love affair, and ends with winter. They first meet on a busy LA freeway. Seb is a jazz purist still licking his wounds after losing his money on opening a jazz club in the city. Mia is an aspiring actress who suffers the humiliation of auditioning again and again between doing her regular job working on the Warner’s lot as a barista. There is a scene when Seb and Mia are strolling through the Warner Bros back lot when she points out the window from which Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart looked out on to Paris in Casablanca. It is a forerunner to the bittersweet ending which like Bogart and Bergman had, and Gosling and Stone will likewise reprise in going their own separate ways. Each tries to encourage the other one to follow their dreams. Seb gets work playing piano in a club, while Mia starts doing her own Show. When Mia sees Seb performing with a band and not playing the music he dreams of playing, she reminds him that it is not what he really wants: to own his own jazz club, and of course he knows that she is right. La La Land is full of artificiality. The Griffith Observatory sequence for example was shot in a painterly way, reminiscent of the paintings of Edward Hopper. It was part of Chazelle’s overall scheme with the movie: to use real L.A., and do things in-camera without digital effects, but try to find those moments where real life looks as fake as possible. Cinematographer Linus Sandgren used a whitish-green to bathe Mia and Sebastian in colour while casting shadows on them. Some dissenters of the film have criticised the singing of Gosling and Stone as poor but they were not meant to be professional singers but natural because they were still dreaming to be professionals, so they could not 4
be seen as hitting the right notes with ease. But it works perfectly when Seb and Mia gaze at the stars before they float and dance among them in a beautifully romantic fantasy. Because the chemistry between Gosling and Stone is so strong as they make an idyllic couple. Another cinematic touch that was missed by many critics as well as cinemagoers was when, due to the artistry of the cinematographer, was using the camera to move in rhythm with Seb and Mia as they danced. While the screenplay incorporates the four seasons and a different colour palate for each, as fantasy and reality blend. In fact La La Land offers so many magical moments; some which may be quite fleeting, that the viewer can discover something new that they didn’t notice before each time they see it and is why so many are going back to watch the film over and over again. And there are the songs which will have you humming them long after you have seen the movie.
City of Stars Sebastian’s verse (Ryan & Emma) City of stars Are you shining just for me? City of stars There’s so much that I can’t see Who knows? I felt it from the first embrace I shared with you That now our dreams They’ve finally come true Mia’s verse (Emma & Ryan) City of stars Just one thing everybody wants There in the bars And through the smokescreen of the crowded restaurants It’s love Yes, all we’re looking for is love from someone else A rush A glance A touch A dance Duet: (Ryan & Emma) A look in somebody’s eyes To light up the skies To open the world and send it reeling A voice that says, I’ll be here And you’ll be alright. I don’t care if I know Just where I will go ‘Cause all that I need is this crazy feeling A rat-tat-tat on my heart (Ryan & Emma) Think I want it to stay City of stars Are you shining just for me? City of stars You never shined so brightly
Emma Stone on set of La La Land
Mia (Emma Stone) and Seb (Ryan Gosling) in La La Land 6
Keith (John Legend) and Seb (Ryan Gosling) in La La Land
Mia (Emma Stone), Alexis (Jessica Rothe), Caitlin (Sonja Mizuno), Tracy (Callie Hernandez) in La La Land.
IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD Directed by Xavier Dolan Starring: Gaspard Ulliel, Nathalie Baye, Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux, Vincent Cassel. Twelve years since I left. Well, they’re family. A family I can’t imagine sharing anything with, even blood. - Louis. Why is Louis returning to his estranged family: his mother (Nathalie Baye) Suzanne (Lea Seydoux) his youngest sister, Antoine (Vincent Cassel) his brother, and Catherine (Marion Cotillard)? He is planning to announce his upcoming death to his family. All attempts of empathy are sacrificed by people’s incapacity to listen and love. Louis’s family is an ordinary one, His mother is a loud and flamboyant woman who makes rather vulgar finger foods. Her elder son, Antoine who is succinctly blunt and angry. The youngest sibling Suzanne, who clearly wishes to leave her suburban malaise with which her mother is perfectly comfortable. Suzanne is quite a fireball and is similar to her brother’s outspokenness. Everyone seems to utter vacuous comments just for something to say and one of its failings is that it is a very talkative film and one sometimes feels that it would work better on the stage than on the big screen.
What does work effectively are the long pauses between the babbling of empty drivel that the characters speak. Within the few seconds of silence is an undying sadness. The powerhouse performances fuel the raw nerve of the quintet of characters, as the five actors collaborate to create a broken family in desperate need of repair. Gaspard Ulliel is a strong and reserved presence who quietly respects the urgency of the situation, while Vincent Cassel’s percolating presence fills the screen with tension. Nathale Baye’s maternal role screams at us but is tempered with fervent chattering. Lea Seydoux jolts us with her stormy outbursts. While in contrast Marion Cotillard is heartbreakingly quiet. Dolan uses an abundance of close-ups throughout the film that effectively fill the frame as a way of telling us that these people are imprisoned in their own misery. The tight frame also gives the film its undeniably excruciating claustrophobia. The home suffocates a visitor from the moments one enters the door. One only needs to be in close proximity to these characters for a few moments to realise why Louis had to escape. Dolan uses the oppressive space of the film to create an overwhelming swell of catharsis and release in the film’s final act as he moves the action out of the house for a brief, adrenaline-charged interlude before 8
returning to the scene of the crime. The final images are a grim reminder that staying in this country home would have been the death of the prodigal son. The last twenty minutes provide some of the most overwhelmingly powerful drama you’ll see this year. It’s Only the End of the World differs from much of the Dolan oueve by favouring drab interiors and by eschewing visual flourishes as the director and DP Andre Turpin let the actors faces do the talking and the depth of the 35mm stock capture their full range of subtle longing. The soundtrack is signature Dolan with a mixtape of 1990s pop songs and forgotten wonders transporting millennials back to their days of youth. One fleeting moment of happiness in which Louis remembers a former flame, gives a buoyant interlude of ecstatic sparkle and Dolan flair. It’s Only the End of the World is a thrilling addition to Dolan’s string of emotionally volatile and visually sumptuous melodramas. It is based on Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play Juste la fin du monde, a taut chamber piece. This is Dolan’s most effectively divisive film yet, although such showmanship never threatens to overshadow the aching sadness that permeates every scene. Although based on another man’s work, the overarching themes of isolation, miscommunications and the queer experience which form the backbone of this arduous family reunion feel decidedly Dolan, albeit a more mature and intimate version than we have seen before. The film premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. The last scene, the implosion scene, was filmed on the third and fourth day of shooting. Xavier Dolan said that after the scene, him, the technicians, the people, all burst into tears.
It was so emotional because it was so touching and so very, very intense. Xavier Dolan considers this film to have been his best work. Dolan has just completed filming The Death and Life of John F Donovan, starring Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Emily Hampshire and Susan Sarandon. The story is about an American movie star who finds his correspondence with an 11-year-old actor exposed, prompting assumptions that begin to destroy his life and career.
Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) in It’s Only the End of the World.
Suzanne (Lea Seydoux) in It’s Only the End of the World. 10
Mother (Nathalie Baye) in Itâ€™s Only the End of the World.
Catherine (Marion Cotillard) in Itâ€™s Only the End of the World.
7 MINUTES Directed by Michele Placido Starring: Ambra Angiolini, Cristiana Capotondi, Fiorella Mannoia, Maria Nazionale, Violante Placido, Clemence Poesy. Would you give up seven minutes out your fifteen minutes’ daily lunch break to save your job? This was the decision that workers were forced to face after the factory had been taken over by a textile multinational. Their decision was put to the vote, resulting in a passionately told story of eleven women held to ransom and what they will do to keep their jobs and those of the other three hundred workers that they represent as committee members. The tension mounts as they and their fellow workers wonder whether they will have a job at the end of the day. Whilst the executives celebrate the company merger on the top floors, below them a heated debate is unfolding on the reasons for accepting or rejecting management’s proposal. Among them are a couple of old people, a pregnant woman, immigrants, a mother whose husband is unemployed, a girl for whom this is her first job – each have their own story, their own needs, and their own fears. The film builds into a psychological thriller, full of suspense and dramatic twists of events, amid a clash of personalities, while the outcome of the votes change constantly. The committee have only a few hours to make their decision on the question of the ‘seven minutes’ in which there is no right or wrong, just the courage to change things. Thirty years previously the same factory granted its workers a 45-minute lunch break, before dropping it down to 30 minutes, then 15, and wants to reduce to eight…what will the workers have to give up next? The divide between Italian and foreign workers is blatantly observed: You’re starting to know fear only now. I use one hand to eat and the other to work, says an African worker. There is a lack of trust in those who represent them (the spokesperson is even suspected of double-dealing) and the fight for rights secured by generations before them, because young people don’t even know what rights are; all topics that are examined in this film on human dignity and work. 7 Minutes is based on the play of the same name by Stefano Massini.
Factory workers gather in 7 Minutes.
AT WAR WITH LOVE Directed by Pif. Starring: Pif, Miriam Leone, Andrea Di Stefano, Stella Egitto, Vincent Riotta, Maurizio Marchetti. The film is dedicated to Ettore Scola, one of Italy’s greatest film directors, and although At War with Love is not in the same league as Scola’s films, it still offers an entertaining experience due to the talented Pierfrancesco Diliberto (Pif), who last year gave us his directional debut film The Mafia Only Kills in Summer. Pif plays the part of Arturo, a waiter. It is set in 1943, and Arturo is in love with the beautiful fellow Italian Flora (Miriam Leone), who is however promised to the son of a New York mafia boss. The girl’s father lives in a small town in Sicily, and to ask his permission for his daughter’s hand in marriage in person, Arturo’s only option is to enlist in the American army which is preparing to travel to the island to fight the Nazis. What evolves is a tender comedy based on a factual case of an agreement between the US Army and a Mafia boss Don Carlo (Maurizio Marchetti) to occupy Sicily in World War 2 without having any trouble and resistance from the locals. A close alliance between the United States and the Sicilian mafia had already been formed with the collaboration of Lucky Luciano, one of the established leaders of the American underworld. The allies had to make the locals approve of them and find a way forwards with the help of the criminal network whose power Mussolini had so strongly limited. The criminals were rewarded with significant political roles, and among them were the future leaders of Cosa Nostra. As in previous films Pif uses a love story to speak about Sicily and the power that the mafia hold on it. Arturo is charged with the task of tracking down Lieutenant Catelli (Andrea Di Stefano), who has top secret information and to reach him, Arturo is literally dropped into Sicily from a helicopter astride a donkey. At the end of the film a real document, the ‘Scotten Report’ recently discovered in London, shows that some Americans sensed the danger of this ‘deal with the devil’.
Arturo (Pif) and Flora (Miriam Leone) in At War with Love.
Arturo (Pif) in At War with Love.
THE CHAMBER Directed by Ben Parker Starring: Johannes Kuhnke, Charlotte Salt, James McArdle, Elliott Levey, Christian Hillborg. Originally a DSRV, that’s A Deep-Submersible Rescue Vehicle..I don’t know where she was from originally, but the Norwegian Navy got hold of it in ’82, decommissioned in ’89, reappropriated by the commercial company Stolt Virgin a year later, and now rented to the Incheon Company and the Koreans. Mats (Johannes Kuhnke), is describing the different uses to which his Cold War-era sub the Aurora has been put over the decades. Another speaker, Holmes (Elliott Levey) added: It was built by the Brits. Before Norway got her, she was British. When a film is set in a claustrophobic narrative as this, it relies on the acting ability of its actors to hold your attention and the nailbiting tension created when everything goes wrong and the tiny crew realizes that they are not all going to survive. Mat’s commercial surveillance vessel has been commandeered by the US military to help search for a top-secret object sunk in North Korean waters, sending the Aurora right back to her Cold War origins. After disaster strikes and the vessel overturns with its trapped crew: Mat, the American Commander Red (Charlotte Salt), Andy (Christian Hillborg) and Holmes (Elliott Levey). We are as frustrated as Mats as not knowing what is the top secret they are searching for. It is one of many instances when we are irritated by the dialogue and storyline but never by the acting; it is that makes us keep watching. Once tension increases so the camera gets closer to its characters, a method that does work. But the film seems limited by its budget and the monetary restrictions show. Compare this with Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot, which was nominated for six Academy Awards. The film its authentic claustrophobic detail in the sights and sounds of underwater warfare and of trying to man a submarine in war-torn waters. Much of its nerve-shattering realism was due to the three-scale model U-boats built for the production. It took up a large proportion of the film’s $14 million budget. But the film that captured the feeling of claustrophobia more than any other was Rodrigo Cortes’s Buried. Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is a truck driver working for a private contractor in Iraq. He wakes up in darkness, reaches and finds a lighter. In its flame, his worst fears are realized – he has been buried alive and held hostage in a coffin. 16 www.moviesbymills.com
His captors want to prove he is alive, so they have left him a phone. Who can he call who can rescue him before the oxygen in the coffin runs out? Paul calls 911. The Pentagon. His employer’s office. His wife. Then he gets calls from his kidnappers, demanding ransom. The filmmakers wisely decided to omit any shots of the action at the other end of the calls. No shots of 911 operators, Pentagon generals or corporate PR types. No shots of his kidnappers. No shots of his weeping wife. The movie emphasises the powerful images that our minds create which are far more compelling than any we can see. Along with Paul, we are trying to transport ourselves to the other end of each call. The outside world proves not to be very helpful at finding a man buried in a box in the middle of the Iraqi desert. Paul must rely on his best resource – himself. It is a universal nightmare to be buried alive which is why so many people choose to be cremated. Paul looks like he is living the nightmare. The picture succeeds because the thriller, tension, as well as a superbly written script delving into the human psyche in such an extreme situation and appealing to our instinctive urges for survival. Despite low budget the picture manages to be intelligent, intriguing and thrilling. The good thing about this film is that the director made it on a shoestring budget only having one set, yet the movie works on many levels but is constantly reconfigured. Paul contacts by means of a cellphone with the outside world asking for help from various people, they are played by actors as voice-overs which works beautifully as we hear what Paul hears. One could well imagine what The Chamber could have been with the right financial backing. Parker’s script was very well researched and features an incredible amount of detail about submarine procedures which really helps with immersion, it is just a pity that the dialogue is often repetitive and unfortunately laughable in the wrong places. On the plus-side, Charlotte Salt is excellent as the strict female in charge and her American accent is totally believable. Elliott Levey and Christian Hillborg deliver good supporting performances, though neither are given enough material to work on. Though Charlotte Salt is clearly the star of the film, with the narrative wrapped and built around her, she is countered remarkably well by her co-star Johannes Kuhnke’s Mat. He’s subtlety and subdued nature in the early part of the film, suddenly explodes when everything starts to go wrong. Though appearing cool and calm, you feel that beneath the surface there lies an emotionally erupting volcano. The lynchpin to the story is the performance of Charlotte Salt as Red and Swedish actor Johannes Bah Kuhnke as Mat.
Holmes (Elliott Levey) in The Chamber.
Mats (Johannes Kuhnke) in The Chamber. 18
Andy (Christian Hillborg) in The Chamber.
Red (Charlotte Salt) in The Chamber.
A SILENT VOICE Directed by Naoko Yamada Starring: Miyu Irino, Saori Hayami, Megumi Han, Yuki Ishikawa. Ishida Shouya bullies a deaf girl, Nishimiya Shouko, to the point that she transfers to another school. As a result, he is ostracised and bullied himself with no friends to speak of and no plans for the future. This is the story of his path to redemption. And it is quite a journey of redemption for a character who is an obnoxious bully to Nishimiya who is sweet and kind. He treats her horribly and throws away the bread she has been feeding the birds with and also flings the paper she uses to write messages to classmates and for them to answer her, in the water. He is constantly telling her to get away from him: You are freaking me out, he bellows. By the time Ishida does seek redemption, everyone else hates him except the girl with the silent voice. The animation is very good and some scenes simply dazzle you with their visual beauty, enticing you to stay with a character that you might otherwise have left. One will probably find that this film is difficult to watch without comparing it to Your Name, which was an outstanding success in Japan: surpassing all box office expectations and the first non-Ghibli, non-series animation to earn over 10 billion yen. Its cumulative total was over $126 million, a figure that places it in the same box office league as the films of the now semi-retired animation legend – Hayao Miyazaki. But as always there is something magical about Japanese animation even when it isn’t Studio Ghibli. Naoko Yamada’s third directed feature follows-on from the popular KON! The Movie, which was based on the TV series. In the film the girls from the band “After School Tea Time” go on a trip to London. However, it was Yamada’s next feature Tamako Love Story that raised the bar of excellence by making a pleasant and moving film. It is a simple human drama of maturing teenage girls and their friendships. Some good people from the neighbour and a boy who finds himself falling in love with one of the girls and braving himself to tell her of his feelings, add to the rich mix of subplots.
Yamada has a gift of framing emotions: depicting a girl sitting alone in a classroom on a table in silence, she lets you share the girl’s feelings of sorrow, regret and fulfilment. But the girl will not be left alone for long; she has a friend who wants to help her overcome an obstacle. The ending song is called “Principle”. Probably the most quoted line in the movie is Bitter memories are proof that you did something. Life is bittersweet – happiness and sadness. The central story is between two childhood friends, Tamako and Mochizou. They live across from each other and both their families own a mochi shop. As expected, Tamako and Mochizou are in love with each other. A Silent Voice does not quite reach the heights of Tamako Love Story, but it still manages to entertain and leave you in awe of its animation. Undoubtedly Naoko Yamada is the name to be remember to watch out for.
What is it about Japanese animated films that they are able to make them so appealing to children and adults? You can take any film from the huge catalogue of Studio Ghibli films and other companies and they reach out to all. Their storylines cross all divides all emotions, all ages. They speak a universal language that awakens the child within us to come out and play make-believe and fantasize. If by any chance, you have neglected seeing any animated films, but particularly those from the Japanese Masters of Animation – then here are a few gems which you should treat yourself to seeing:
CASTLE IN THE SKY THE GIRL WHO LEAPED THROUGH TIME HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE PONJO PORCO ROSSO SPIRITED AWAY THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE THE WIND RISES
Nishimiya in A Silent Voice.
Nishimiya and Ishida in A Silent Voice.
Nishimiya and Ishida in A Silent Voice.
Nishimiya and Ishida in A Silent Voice.
THE SALESMAN Directed by Asghar Farhdi Starring: Taraneh Alidoosti, Shahab Hosseini, Babak Karimi. I was waiting for you. He stroked my hair. I thought it was you. Rana Etesami. Forced to leave their collapsing house, Rana and Emad, an Iranian couple who happen to be performers rehearsing for Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” rent a new apartment from one of their fellow performers. Unaware of the fact that the previous tenant had been a woman of ill repute having many clients, they settle down. By a nasty turn of events one of the clients pays a visit to the apartment one night while Rana is alone at home taking a bath and the aftermath turns the peaceful life of the couple upside down. The violence is not portrayed and there is an ambiguity to what exactly happened. There are bloody footsteps on the stairs and Rana is hospitalised with a nasty injury, but the question that everyone asks and at the same time avoids is – was she raped? The police are not called and Emad is eager to return to normal life. However Rana is traumatised and unable to continue normally. She wants Emad to take time off work and stay with her. For her, the new apartment is now hell because in what should be the safety of her new home she now feels only violation. Emad’s reaction is to act as a detective as the attacker has left his phone and some car keys. He searches until he finds the lock that fits the key and all the time his life slowly begins to unravel. The play is disrupted when Rana can no longer perform and Emad becomes uncharacteristically tetchy with his charges at school, confronting one child with an anger that reflects what has happened at home. As the mystery is resolved things can only get worse as now Emad has the opportunity for revenge and the moral ambiguity of vengeance; a toxic cocktail of anger and glee and the original pain are mixed. The performances are as superb as audiences have come to expect, with Farid Sajjadihosseini particularly praiseworthy in the later scenes. Throughout the film, mirrors are used to reflect the failings of real life and vice-versa. The Salesman is a rich and complex take on guilt and anger. There is humour in particular when a friend’s child comes to stay, but even this moment will be spoiled by the crime, the repercussions of which reverberate throughout the film. 24
After the French interlude of The Past, Asghar Farhadi continues his exploration of the dark side of the soul, using a traumatic assault to trigger a young husband’s uncontrollable thirst for revenge. Though lacking the astounding social complexity of his Academy Award-winning drama A Separation, about a married couple who are faced with a difficult decision to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer’s disease. Farhadi’s work has revolutionized new Iranian cinema, pulling it out of the much-beaten path of realism and selfreflection pioneered by directors like Abbas Kiarostami and into a new, highly dramatized and theatrical road. The Salesman takes this tendency to its limits, even incorporating a play into its story of hurt pride and revenge. Once again, the social divisions in modern Iran play a crucial part in the drama and its repercussions on the characters’ lives, they aren’t as compelling as the strong upstairs-downstairs social dynamic between the masters and servants in A Separation and the director’s earlier Fireworks Wednesday. What is most at stake here are the psychological weakness and moral vacancy of the main characters. Emad and Rana who are working actors and part of Tehran’s cultural aristocracy. The film opens on their rehearsal of “Death of a Salesman” with Emad playing Willy Loman and Rana his wife Linda. It is amusing to see such an all-American classic adapted into Farsi and performed in Iran, where such unexpected difficulties arise as having the sexy Miss Francis appear completely covered-up when the dialogue indicates she’s hardly dressed. There’s also mention of the censors coming over to adjust part of the play. Yet it is eventually performed under a big neon sign advertising gambling and booze, to a rapt audience. We are still in the first act when Rana returns home before Emad and is attacked. Aldoosti is coolly indifferent in her role, becomes almost dislikeable when she comes home from the hospital traumatized and full of phobias. Sympathy then swings to Emad, who is doing his best to cope with her pain and unreasonable demands, but soon reaches his limit. Since they have decided not to go to the police to keep Rana from being grilled on what happened, he then starts searching for the perpetrator. It is from this point that the story really takes off. As the tension mounts, Hosseini shifts Emad’s attitude from caring to frightening. He is hell-bent on humiliating the man who humiliated him, he seems much more enraged at the insult to his pride than the assault on his wife’s body. The cruel plan he concocts is both crazy and chilling and has unforeseen results on everyone around him
Rana (Taraneth Farhdi) in The Salesman.
Rana (Taraneth Farhdi in The Salesman. 26
Rana (Taraneth Farhdi) and Emad (Shahab Hosseini) in The Salesman.
Rana (Taraneth Farhdi in The Salesman.
PIF aka: Pierfrancesco Diliberto Actor, Writer, Director. La Mafia Uccide Solo D’Estate (The Mafia Kills Only in Summer) In Guerra Per Amore (At War with Love) The first thing I noticed about Pif when meeting him was his charming persona. I was at the Cine Lumiere, South Kensington to interview him regarding his latest film At War with Love which was being screened as part of the Cinema Made in Italy season of films. At War with Love is Pif’s second feature film, written, acted and director by him. In the first The Mafia Kills Only in Summer, which was screened and reviewed by MbM at last year’s Cinema Made in Italy, he again used the theme of debunking history and the mafia, and Pif played Arturo as he does in his latest film. Pif works with co-writers and I asked him how that worked out. We would work it out by fighting…even throwing pillows at each other. I’m not kidding, we really fought, he said. Most filmmakers are film buffs and generally from an early age and Pif is no exception as he recalled starting to like films from the age of ten and his father bought him a camera and then his love affair with films really started. As with most aspiring film aficionados he started making short films until he built up his experience that led to features. Another important personality trait which nearly all creative people have is passion, and Pif has an abundance of that. But really it was the subject of the rich heritage of Italian film directors and their films that I felt he could have talked on forever. When he mentioned their names and their films they began to project again on the screen of my mind as I felt they were with Pif as he began his nostalgic roll-call. MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI L’Avventura (1960) Starring Gabrielle Ferzetti, Monica Vitti. Hailed by critics as one of the most important films ever shown at the Cannes film festival. A small party of wealthy Roman characters take a cruise from Sicily and stop off at a desolate, rocky island to pass an idle afternoon that becomes an ordeal when Anna disappears. FEDERICO FELLINI La Dolce Vita (1960) Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimee. During the summer of 1959 the style and attitudes of Rome fashionable party folk are captured where their excesses are beyond satire, but cannot help but feel fascinated by their decadent behaviour. The film became known for setting more fashion styles and fads than any other from pavement cafes to the now common term used to describe the swarm of photojournalists as paparazzi after a character so-named in the film. 28
BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI The Conformist (1970) Starring Jean-Louis Trinttignant, Stefania Sandrelli. Marcello Clerici embraces Mussolini’s Fascist government. He joins the secret police and he has to assassinate an old college professor, but begins to have doubts about the validity of his mission. ETTORE SCOLA (At War with Love, is dedicated to him).
Splendor (1989) Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Marina Vlady, Massimo Troisi. Splendor is the name of an old movie theatre managed by Jordan who inherited it from his father. The cinema is in decay and only generates debts and trouble, but Jordan gets help from projectionist Luigi and an usherette named Chantale, but finally he is forced to sell.
GIUSEPPE TORNATORE Cinema Paradiso (1988) Starring: Phillipe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Salvatore Cascio. A filmmaker who, after being told by his mother that ‘Alfredo died’ starts to remember the 1950s, when as a boy living in a small Sicilian village, he spent almost all his time in the Cinema Paradiso and becoming friends with the projectionist Alfredo.
PAOLO SORRENTINO The Great Beauty (2013) Starring: Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilla. Journalist Jep Gambardella has charmed and seduced his way through the glittering nightlife of Rome. Since the legendary success of his only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city’s literary and elite social circles. But on his sixty-fifth birthday, he unexpectedly starts taking stock of his life. VITTORIO DE SICA, LUCHINO VISCONTI, ROBERT0 BENIGNI, MAURIZIO NICHETTI, SERGIO LEONE, NANNI MORETTI, ERMANNO OLMI, PIER PASOLINI, FRANCESCO ROSI, ROBERTO ROSSELLINI, VITTORIO & PAOLO TAVIANI, FRANCO ZEFFIRELLI…and now the name of PIF I felt like celebrating, so I asked Pif if he would ever make a film in a different genre, like making a musical? And he paused for a moment and smiled. “Yes, I would” he said, and I had the distinct feeling that it was a question that he had never been asked before…
Pif on the set of At War with Love. 30
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