Amour @ The Ross

Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintingnant)

Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintingnant)

Austrian director Michael Haneke’s Oscar winning film Amour, is cold and raw, and music director’s Cecile Lenoir’s meager score intensified Haneke cinematic chill. Amour is a film that is so spare that we are strained to feel every nuance and every exasperating waking moment. Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) are old and married and in love.

Theirs is a simple compassionate love story that becomes compromised by Anne’s paralysis which eventually renders her immobile. Both Anne and Georges are retired music teachers who have cultivated a love for the arts. A joyous evening at a piano recital, a blissful ride home on the bus, and easy talk upon their arrival thereafter suggest that this couple has managed well their marriage. It is effortless. It is fluid. It is lovely; but this is just about all of the ‘romance’ the audience gets. The morning after ushers in the beginning of the end, and no matter how much Georges tries to order his and Anne’s life, control of it creeps out.

Georges and Anne are visited rarely by neighbors and occasionally by their daughter Eva (played by Isabelle Huppert). A former student of Anne’s, played with restraint by French classical pianist Alexandre Tharaud, pays the couple a visit but the conversation is quite uniform—even flat. It is obvious Alexandre is nervous to see the paralyzed hand of his former piano teacher, and Anne does nothing to put him at ease.

Anne

Anne

Cinematographer Darius Khondji emphasizes the haunting echo of Anne’s illness that seizes the ambiance of the apartment. Every inch of space in their home has surrendered to the inevitable: Anne will not get well. Yet, Jean-Louis Trintignant’s performance demands our trust that he will deliver Anne back to some semblance of the wife he has known; and we believe in him; and so does Anne.

The Ross logoAmour plays through March 7 at The Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

Abridged audio version @ 33:41 http://www.netnebraska.org/interactive-multimedia/none/friday-live-arts-soul

The Women Make Movies at 40 Festival, runs through March 14.

This weekend’s MetHD Live at Wagner’s Parsifal.

Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters opens at The Ross on March 8.

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Brooklyn Castle @ The Ross

Master Chess Player Rochelle Ballantyn

Master Chess Player Rochelle Ballantyn

“Playing to win” is the mantra of “The Yankees of Chess”, the chess champions from P.I.S. 318, a junior high school in Brooklyn, New York known for its championships. Yes, in Brooklyn Castle, the geek and the nerd are the athletes in the crowd. In her inspirational documentary, Katie Dellamaggiore charts the day-to-day activities of these students, who work tirelessly to juggle the twists and turns of life. The one constant is the mastery of chess with its intellectual challenges and intricate strategies. The game itself is the anchor, and chess opens the door to a wealth of opportunities and, even more significant, the game paves the way for the building of determination, confidence, and intellectual stamina within the students. The nurture of relationships between parents and teachers is very apparent.

practicing the game

practicing the game

Brooklyn Castle is intoxicating for a number of reasons. Witnessing student eagerness to learn the game and the all-out investment of time, belief in, and engagement with the students by the teachers are amazing. Seeing the chess game taken apart in its pieces by a teacher brings the audience into the classroom. These particular scenes no doubt will inspire you to at least learn more about the game. Each competitor’s commitment to the game of chess above is impressive above all as is the unquestioned faith in the ability to win!

Brooklyn Castle plays through February 21 at the Ross Media Arts Center.

Abridged audio version @ 48:00 http://tinyurl.com/d3gd4es on Friday Live at the Mill!

A Royal Affair @ The Ross

Dr. Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), the Danish King Christian (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), and Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander)

Dr. Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), the Danish King Christian (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), and Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander)

Courtly madness and arrant passion combine for A Royal Affair, Nikolaj Arcel’s lavish historical drama set in 18th century Denmark. It is based on the true story of a love triangle between Dr. Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), the German physician to the mentally ill Danish King Christian IV (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), and his love affair with the well-versed English Princess turned Queen, Caroline Matilde (Alicia Vikander). It is the Age of Enlightenment, and Dr. Struensee and Queen Matilde contemplate the ideal of personal freedom. Arcel’s production unleashes the usual suspects once the affair is discovered: the lovers’ carelessness, intrigue, and, of course, the set-up. The device Arcel cleverly uses to set-up the attraction between Dr. and his patient, the King, and for the love affair to materialize is the seduction of the written word. Dr. Struensee earns the Royal Physician’s post by trading quotations from Shakespeare with the King like an experienced chess player. When the Dr. examines the Queen for a possible illness in his office, she spies his library and borrows a book on the Enlightenment. Later, the Dr. sends the Queen a gift of Rousseau and Voltaire for her private reading. These literary gestures endear physician, King and Queen to each other as each word conjures up intense friendship and fascination; loyalty and trust.

The Dr. and Queen in a stolen moment

The Dr. and Queen in a stolen moment

Worth noting in A Royal Affair are the sumptuous eye-pleasing costumes overrun with rich brocades, lace and silk. Nikolaj Arcel has produced an astonishing smartly executed period piece drawn with a very modern feel.

A Royal Affair plays through February 21 at The Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

This weekend’s Met HD Live opera is Rigoletto February 16 and Sunday, February 17.
The Coffee and Conversation film on Sunday is Soul Food Junkies.

Abridged audio version @ 49:36 http://tinyurl.com/d3gd4es on Friday Live at the Mill!

Barbara @ The Ross

Barbara (Nina Hoss)

Barbara (Nina Hoss)

“What’s Barbara’s secret?” is the question we ask throughout Christian Petzold’s Barbara, a sharply pensive but remarkable film. Petzold holds out the answer like a rabbit to a racing greyhound even until the end. It is 1980. Cold War Germany. The superbly talented Nina Hoss, plays Barbara, an East German Doctor from Berlin who smartly negotiates between the evil of the Stasi and the life-affirming healing arts she practices in a rural hospital. There she meets the sympathetic Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld), a doctor who cultivates her love for the arts (and eventually for him) but also watches Nina along with the East German secret police.

Barbara is a good story; thin on the dialogue, but thick with potent character interactions which betray every passion and emotion; every fear and desperation. All combine to step away from the common place notions of East Germany: cold and repressive; grey and ominous. Instead, Petzold films flourishing countrysides and forests; colorful apartments, and people, like Barbara and Andre, who invest in those who have come to them for care.

Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld) and Barbara

Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld) and Barbara

Yes, Barbara is a good story but Petzold takes far too long to unveil the mystery, and we almost cast aside our investment in the characters. Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld inhabit their characters to such an extent, however, that we are brought back into the fold. Barbara’s end will strike a hopeful chord with everyone, and that is: No matter the trial, in the end, we are blessed to return home and to be welcomed back.

Barbara plays through February 7 at The Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

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Movie Talk at The Ross on Sunday, February 3, at 2:15 pm with Marco Abel and H. Peter Reinkordt after the 12:30 pm screening of Barbara.

The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2013 and The House I Live In both open at The Ross on February 8th

Abridged Audio Version @ 40:06 http://tinyurl.com/bhwqhu6

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