Dog days of Christmas

I had thought one use of the dog days between Christmas and New Year would be to catch up on some films that are on but I had not got round to seeing. Having more time on my hands than I anticipated I ended up seeing more films in the last three days than I imagined I would. The two closest cinemas running a special offer of € 5 a visit made it possible.

The first film was one that JTO saw a long time ago and raved about but I had not had either the time or money to see. Subsequently I had read others raving about it and now I can see what they saw in the Artist. A silent film in black and white? Yep, though I wonder if it would work as anything other than an homage to the silent black and white films? A very enjoyable film with a good story that is well acted. I can see why it has made so many lists of best films of the year.

After a little walk around in the daylight, including a visit to my favourite place in Strasbourg, I walked to the Star cinema to see my first Michael Fassbender film of the period, Shame. A lot of the pre-publicity for the film was about the full-frontal nudity. There is also a lot of sex thought it doesn’t seem very sexy rather the arrival of his sister to stay with him and the failure to be able to relate to another human results in his life spiralling out of control. An interesting study of the commodification of everyday life where anything to satisfy any need is available all the time and addiction.

Thursday afternoon started with Snowtown. I hadn’t heard much about the film but had seen it included in some people’s best of the year films so I thought I would take a look. I misread the information about the film and thought it was about the Australian mafia. I was still waiting for the story to develop into that after more than ten minutes. I nearly left several times. It is a harrowing film to watch with abuse, rape and then brutality and murder. It was an ordeal to sit all the way through, not a fun film about a serial killer, but then not a fun subject. The way it portrays a young man who seeks an escape from the violence and hopelessness that surrounds him, thinks he has found it only to be sucked into a gang of murders is enthralling.

Afterwards I had to get out of the cinema and get some fresh air and some light.  I ran into a friend and chatted and felt returned to normality in time to catch my second installment of Michael Fassbender in A Dangerous Method. The most traditional of the five films I saw, the blurb for it said it concerned:

“the turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein, the beautiful but disturbed young woman who comes between them. Sensuality, ambition and deceit set the scene for the pivotal moment when Jung, Freud and Sabina come together and split apart, forever changing the face of modern thought.”

To start with I found Keira Knightly a bit over-mannered in her acting but an interesting story told well, though not exceptionally.

After walking around the market in Place Kleber and looking at the books and maps for sale in the L’Aubette, where I saw the wonderful decoration of part of the building for the first time, I went back to the Star to see a digital film in 3D, my first 3D film. The Mill and the Cross was the most powerful and life affirming, even though it features the death of Christ. It is based upon the painting The Way To Calvary by Peter Beugel and imagines the lives of twelve of the hundreds of subject in the painting and what happened to them before and after they featured in the painting. At the same time giving an explanation for the themes, meanings and history behind the painting.

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