“This film is not for everybody. This film is not even for most people. … Some of y'all may not be here by the time this film is done.”
That's how Jason, our sherpa through the Belcourt's midnight movie series, chose to introduce Possession, a 1981 horror-drama that is ostensibly about a couple's dissolving marriage and subsequent nervous breakdowns. When Mark (Sam Neill) returns from a clandestine mission, he discovers that Anna (Isabelle Adjani) is no longer interested in pursuing their marriage. At first it seems like she's flitted away to Heinrich, a buff German zen master, but then she stabs a dude in the neck with a broken wine bottle, has sex with an octopus and wait — what the what?
Possession is like what would happen if the deformed baby from Eraserhead grew up in David Cronenberg's Videodrome. It's about as unsettling as it is incomprehensible, and boy is it incomprehensible. But more on that in a moment.
Watch the trailer for Goodbye First Love, opening tonight at The Belcourt, and tell us this doesn't look like the guiltless romantic wallow we've been awaiting. (It reminds us of nothing so much as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg without the music.) James Cathcart falls in love with it himself in this week's Scene:
When movies try to portray how people fall in love, or out of it, they typically erect a scaffolding of contrivances that bears little relationship to what really happens. Think of Scarlett O'Hara's passions, fanned by wartime deprivation and burning hotter than Atlanta; the chain of coincidences that brings Bogie and Bergman back together, then just as quickly apart; or all the maneuvering required to rig up a chance encounter between a society girl and a destitute artist aboard the Titanic's ill-fated maiden voyage. Less dramatic, maybe, but no less a phenomenon is the commonplace miracle of love — a process whose universal simplicity, yet individual complexity, is too mysterious to wind up neatly by the third act. By inflating it with artificial drama, while losing sight of its humble power, the cinema betrays love.
That can't be said of Goodbye First Love, the sublime third feature by French actress turned filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve (The Father of My Children). It's even more of a triumph because movies about love between young people are so often false and sentimental, compounded by a patronizing treatment of adolescent emotion as a precious whim. The questions Hansen-Løve asks of her young protagonists, by comparison, cut to the heart: Are longing and heartache any less real for being born from naivete? Is teenage infatuation something we grow out of, or a prolonged condition we carry into our adult lives?
The movie introduces 15-year-old Camille (Lola Créton, from Catherine Breillat's Bluebeard) in 1999, at the height of her infatuation with her charming yet preoccupied older boyfriend Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky). Though Sullivan seems to reciprocate Camille's love, his extra years put him closer to adulthood than his lover, and distracted by the world now at his feet. In the spirit of the titular character from Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels (after which we may assume he was named), he hastily drops his college courses, sells an heirloom, and departs for a 10-month trek through South America. Neither he, she, nor we know it will become indefinite. ...
In celebration of Cheek and the Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden that bears her name, Cheekwood offers a day of activities Saturday, May 19, ranging from a 10 a.m. talk by best-selling Catherine the Great historian Robert Massie — a former Nashvillian and longtime Cheek family friend — to a family story time at 11 a.m. featuring Jamina Carder and Kaaren Engel’s book Herman’s Journey and a performance at 1 p.m. by the Southern Word poetry group, envisioning the years to come in its “Future Break” project. Park admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $5 college students with ID and kids ages 3-17.
The off-kilter mad scientist aesthetic of taxidermy is the only link I’ve been able to come up with to connect the two exhibits opening tonight at Vanderbilt’s Space 204. That difficulty is not a complaint — the space typically entertains diverse exhibits that are much easier to appreciate in person than they are to write about in a 150-word preview, but that’s never stopped me from trying. And so: Taxidermy!
Barbara Yontz worked with animal parts to make her “Star Womb Project,” an 8-foot sculpture based on collaborations with an astrophysicist whose experimental data measured the formation of the first stars. The sculpture incorporates hog gut, wool and silk to create a hollow vessel that works like a womb and turns abstract information into sound.
Joining her in the space is Quintin Owens, who uses the bright colors of hunters’ blaze-orange vests to offset dead animals on pedestals. He is currently a studio assistant at Vanderbilt’s department of art.
Battleship, the latest two-hour-plus movie based on a Hasbro toy, is predictably a movie assembled by creative committee. At the same time, based on the movie the committee delivered, the members of that imaginary brain trust are more thoughtfully eccentric than one might expect.
Imagine, if you will, a meeting of the minds headed by the world's biggest Michael Bay fan and chaired by a gawky scientist with a thing for Billy Bob Thornton. This confab gathers retirees from a veterans' home, fans of R&B and Tadanobu Asano (the Johnny Depp of Japan!), a toy-company executive who also happens to be the 12-year-old M. Night Shyamalan, and a guy who saw J.J. Abrams' last two movies and dug their extended use of lens flares.
If Battleship is any indication, the only pop culture mavens missing from this coalition of the willing were the Village People and Frankenberry. It isn't a personal, smart or especially clever popcorn movie: In fact, it's dumb as dirt and monumentally contrived. But somehow, the unsung dream team that put it together got the job done.
Read the full review here.
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