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Posts tagged ‘stroke victim’

NYFF 2012 ~ Strong Films Feature Strong Actresses, “Amour”, “Beyond the Hills”

This year’s New York Film Festival is  just about at the half-way through point, for press. The press screenings started just about immediataely that I got back from Toronto. And begin two weeks or so before the public begins to see the films, which began Friday night with “The Life of Pi.”

The 50th annivarsary edition of the NYFF has cerainly been featuring strong films about strong women, with VERY strong actresses doing award-worthy work.

The strongest by far is “Amour” the Palme d’Or winner at this years’ Cannes film festival, and this almost unbearably-painful-to-watch film by Michael Haneke(pronounced like Hun-a-kuh, like the Festival of Lights) stars French luminaries from the past Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintigant.

Emmanuelle Riva’s performance as Anne, an 80-something former music teacher who lives with her octogenarian husband, the equally magnificent Trintigant, in a beautifully quaint Paris apartment. And the lovely, charming Anne begins to be the victim of a series of strokes that leave her, first paralyzed on the right side, then paralyzed even further.

The demands on M. Riva are gargantuan in terms of enacting all the dibiltating stages of her decline, and she magnificently meets  every one of them with bravery and great force. You really are appauled at the toll old age is taking on her as she is ravaged by one malady after the other after the other. And Trintignant has the less showy role of the caretaker, the devoted husband who is appauled and dismayed by the excruciating decline and pain of his wife’s deteriotating conditiion.

Haneke is one of my favorite filmmakers and his previous work “Cache”, “Funny Games” and “The White Ribbon” are all extremely challenging and perplexing in different ways. “Amour” which should have been named “Le Mort” is tough, but “Amour” is the toughest, as it unflinchingly chronicles the end-of-life traumas that all human beings are going to have to face sooner or later. Some thing as grim as this material has never been shown onscreen. It’s disturbing, horrifying and unforgettable, all at the same time.

Austria has chosen it as their official entry for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film even though the actors speak French and it is set in France. Haneke, the director, is Austrian. France has chose the light-hearted comedy “The Intouchables” a Weinstein Co. production. So it will be comedy v. tragedy in this category at the Oscars in February. I’m sure both films may be nominated and Ms. Riva, too, may get a Best Actress nomination, her performance an the dying Anne is so awe-inspiring.

There’s also, like Haneke’s “Cache” and “The White Ribbon” especially, a kind of mystery that needs to be solved at the end. And I can only alert you to the fact that everything you need to know is in the OPENING scene of the movie. Just pay close attention.

Equally devastating, but somehow, lighter, if that’s even possible, is Roumanian director Christian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills.” This film was also awarded at Cannes, with a dual Best Actress prize, for the two young women,Cosima Strahaan and Cristina Flutur, who play the leads. Childhood best friends since the orphanage they grew up in, Stratan’s character joins an Orthodox nunnery that separates her from Flutur.

Alina(Flutur) is obsessively attached to Voichita(Strahan) and right off the bat, in the very first scene of the film, she crushingly hugs her friend, collapsing in tears in a train station, in such a way that Voichita, the nun, is dreadfully embarassed.

Alina, long story short, is revealed to have an overwhelming lesbian love for Voichita, and will stop at nothing in the convents’ attempts to separate the two, after Alina comes for an extended visit and then stays and stays. Her obsession becomes violent and the nuns and their priest attempt to exorcise the demons they believe Alina is possessed by. It’s horrifying. And it it not set in the past though the   convent and its’ inhabitants and rituals seem medieval.

And this is based on the non-fiction novels of Tatiana Niculescu Bran, which in turn were based on a true story.

The New Year Begins. Barnes & Noble ends…

Well,2010 is now as dead as Marley’s Ghost. The weather in New York got into the balmy 40’s. Almost 50. A million people came to Times Square to watch that stupid ball drop. WHY?

I never got that.

It’s usually freezing although this year it wasn’t. It just seems the stupidest of rituals to me. A ball? Dropping? OK, it’s lit up, but you’re crammed in there with hundreds of thousands of other people and YOU CAN’T GET OUT!

Also, there’s nowhere that I can discern that you can use a bathroom. And you have to stand there for something like six-plus hours. It just seems idiotic and extremely uncomfortable to me.

But it’s free. And I think that’s the attraction, really. And the press covers it. And you might end up on television. A face in the crowd.

It’s idiotic. I went once, many years ago and didn’t even get close to the actual Times Square area. And the crowds even on 8th Avenue were, of course, all drunk. And in person, scary.

I guess I have to admit I watch it at home on TV. But seeing Dick Clark this year a palpable stroke victim, trying to enunciate, and not really succeeding. And Ryan Seacrest jumping up and down…As if we didn’t see enough of him on a daily basis on TV ANYway…

I remember Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians on TV playing “Auld Lang Syne” from the Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria. Now THAT seemed like a place I’d want to be on New Year’s Eve….but Guy Lombardo is no more…

The saddest moment, unexpectedly for me, was going to the lovely Barnes & Noble book store on W. 66th, right near Lincoln Center, and finding out that, yes, it’s actually closing…

I had heard something about it, vaguely rushing by on some evening news program, I guess, but I thought I had mis-heard it.

But there, a forlorn, print-out piece of paper, scotch-taped on the door, confirmed the unbelievable news, that, yes, after Jan.2, that particular branch of Barnes and Noble would be forever gone.

I used to live up in that area with the late David Summers, who died of AIDs, nearly a quarter of a century ago…and that area always seems like “David’s area” to me. W.68th, between Columbus and the Park. Barnes and Noble wasn’t even there then. Back in the ’70s….

I thought for a bit when I went there a few nights ago that it was doubly sad because David and I had spent so many happy hours there, but no.

He had already moved on to Manhattan Plaza, when it just opened, where he eventually died…

And now that particular branch of Barnes and Noble which was four stories of books and a generally cheery place is now going to be gone forever…and replaced by…what?

I shudder to think…but the essence of life is change…

And that is certainly the essence of New York. Constant change. There was a blizzard. Then there wasn’t. Then the temperature went up. Then it’s New Year’s Eve. Then it’s not.

And now we’re in the SECOND decade of the 21st Century…

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