Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Seizing the day - life-affirming films

by Ted Welch Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 06:25:17 PM EST

After being disappointed with several recent films: The Ides of March; BruegeI; Take Shelter - I thought maybe I was just becoming jaded. But then on TV came "Billy Elliot", some important themes dealt with seriously, but also great, life-affirming, exuberant dancing.

Then today - what a day for films on TV - by wonderful serendipity I changed channels and there was Zorba The Greek, just as it started. What joy - one of my favourite films - and another life-affirming one. Sadly I've been too like Basil (Yes and too like the Fawlty Towers one too sometimes :-)):

Alexis Zorba: Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it. You've got everything except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness, or else...
Basil: Or else?
Alexis Zorba: ...he never dares cut the rope and be free."

Well, I did cut the rope, took early retirement from university and came to France - there was more than a little madness in that.

But while joyous the film is certainly not bland - I prepared something to eat during the scene where Irene Papas is killed (though I don't think Zorba would have turned his back and let her walk behind him through that crowd). It's also a horrible scene where the French woman dies and the old women (mainly) steal her things, no wonder the Cretans weren't happy with Michael Cacoyannis, the director (and I now see that he died just last year). But, for all his tenderness towards her while alive, Zorba is unsentimental when she dies: "Silly old bitch. She's not alone, she's with Suleiman Pasha having a hell of a time."  Then the joyful wisdom (Nietzsche) of the final dance on the beach.

Then "Dangerous Liasons" - intelligent, but too full of DSK-style decadence, though even the apparently cynical can really suffer in love (Glenn Close).

More joy - "Dead Poets Society" another favourite, of course I identify with Keating (Robin Williams): "I always thought the purpose of education was to learn to think for yourself." Apparently while the film was being made Williams was only involved for about three weeks; the young actors playing the boys saw the director, Peter Weir, an Australian, as their Keating figure.

"Carpe diem" - but "Sucking the marrow out of life doesn't mean choking on the bone." It's a delicate balance - like dancing.

No Shawshank Redemption? No Straight Story? no Amelie? no Silent Running? no Princess Bride? no Touching the void? :-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jan 10th, 2012 at 08:35:21 PM EST
Well, from what I can see he was simply extolling his fortune at seeing so many life affirming films on TV in one day.

Can't have Star Wars re-runs all the time ;-)

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 06:45:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought so too, but he had some spare hours, so was providing some fill ins for his empty time. :-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 07:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No "empty time" - I was usually doing something else online or in Photoshop Elements, while watching films I knew quite well, sometimes giving all my attention to certain sequences.

I've set myself some resolutions for the New year, including reading some Science Fiction short stories to feed my imagination and then doing a montage illustration for each one - one a day - well three in five days, but there have been other things to do.

I'll put them up in another diary.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 07:20:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A month ago we went to the movies to watch Intouchables, but it was sold out (and has remained that way for some time), so we ended up watching The Ides of March instead (not exactly a feel-good movie I'd say).

There was a wave of such "life-affirming films" at the end of the 80s' (a supposedly cynical decade): Bagdad Cafe (1987), Rain Man (1988), Dead Poets Society (1989)...

by Bernard on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 02:57:28 PM EST

One of the greatest from earlier was 8 1/2 - ending with a great communal dance. I love the film; seen it at least 9 times - pity he went over the top after this. It kept a delicate balance between his critical alter ego "Why not just be silent?" and his spontaneous self ("We're ready to begin") - the latter was given too free a rein in Juliet of the Spirits. Another early great is Bergman's "Wild Strawberries" - with a delicate balance between cynicism - the married couple they pick up then kick out of the car as a bad example to the young people, and him   mellowing from his early grumpy self.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 07:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

A young Brit friend thought "Take Shelter" " amazing" - I'm amazed it got made and that critics who ought to know better were impressed.

M correctly summed it up in her impeccable English: "Silly film" :-)

Now I look through the reviews I see that my friend has numbers on his side, but I agree with this:

 "There are some interesting visual moments but they add up to little, and the ending is a faintly absurd cop-out."


And this:

"Take Shelter is also getting rave reviews from the established critics. Ebert gave it four stars and it won the Critics Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. What am I missing? The acting is top notch but the script is sparse, the pacing is snail-paced, and there is not much else to make up for that. I do not recommend anyone go see this because it more than just feels empty, it really is. There is no substance to wrap yourself around. There is Michael Sheen (Shannon) of course, but he just cannot shoulder the weight all by himself without some additional help from the writer."


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jan 11th, 2012 at 07:12:17 PM EST
I liked "Juno" because it's so sassy... great writing.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Thu Jan 12th, 2012 at 10:22:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of uplifting...

Have you seen von Trier's Melancholia?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 08:01:32 AM EST
A friend who's a bit of a film buff rated it No 1 of 2011, and I think it won some critics' prize  - but then he also liked "Take Shelter" :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Jan 15th, 2012 at 02:13:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guess I'm one of the ones who got it. I thought it was brilliant, as did Karin. Some people hate it.

I'd very much like to see it again, this time in english.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jan 15th, 2012 at 03:59:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries