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Me and You (Bertolucci, 2014 – SLIFF, 2014)

Me and You

Me and You is a small and quiet return of Bertolucci to the festival circuit. It has been almost a decade since The Dreamers. The film is much less ambitious in scope than most of his prior work. As a result, critics have been very mixed on whether the film eventually works or not. A Guardian reviewer even quipped that the film is ” a good deal less interesting and dramatic than Home Alone.”

But this overly harsh description fails to see the touches of Bertolucci’s earlier work that make Me and You one of this year’s pleasant surprises. A failed back surgery left Bertolucci wheelchair-bound in 2003, which led to such a lengthy silence from the filmmaker. Touches of this more confined experience of life may be present in the overall tone of the film, which takes place mainly in the small space of a Roman basement.

Young Lorenzo does not get along with the other kids in school, so he has decided to skip the school’s week long ski trip and hide out in the basement of his mom’s apartment. The film is a study in teenage angst, complete with interludes of Cure and Arcade Fire tracks. But Me and You really begins to gain traction when his older half-sister crashes his basement isolation to withdraw from heroin. Her life is on that brink after which there won’t be anything left but the addiction,... Read More

A Master Builder (Demme, 2014 – SLIFF, 2014)

Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory shared a simple theatrical frame My Dinner With Andre. The film is quintessential art house cinema, inspired internally by a choice quote from Bergman’s Autumn Sonata. Malle’s two-shot framing also presages a lot of the simplicity that would later characterize American indie cinema – convinced that something other than visual flourish could drive compelling cinema.  They appear again together in... Read More

The Theory of Everything (Marsh, 2014)

The Theory of Everything is a film potentially about so much it runs into the problem of deciding what it has to say. The marriage of Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde is well publicized – the subject of two separate and lengthy accounts by Wilde. The first, Music to Move the Stars gave way a few years later to Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen. Marsh’s film is based on the latter, which dialed back the candor of the former.... Read More

Believe Me (Bakke, 2014)

  I don’t think I have ever bumped into a principle of sociology stated this way anywhere, but a subculture may be defined by its ability to mock itself. The defining characteristics of contemporary Evangelicalism are not dogmatic. This is surprising, given that Evangelicalism as a movement began as a set of theological distinctives packaged with a certain pose toward “cultural engagement” that inspired participation in American... Read More