Oslo, August 31 is a film I had already seen and already written about, so I won’t dote much more on it. I will say that while I was left gutted the first time I watched it and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to another viewing, Oslo, August 31 was still deeply sad but strangely provoking. We were joined by writer/director Joachim Trier and he was an absolute delight to listen to. Clearly very intelligent and thoughtful. Very interested in seeing more work from him, hopefully soon, and be sure to watch the entire interview in the archive link at the bottom of this post.
Next, The Ballad of Narayama, a film that has been on my radar since being released by the Criterion Collection (if you don’t know, I’m addicted to buying Criterions). It was also the last entry in Ebert’s Great Movies feature. He made a last minute decision to include this feature and after viewing it, there seems to be a very profound reason for this that I won’t spoil, but I will say it has to do with his age at his passing. Briefly, The Ballad of Narayama is a folk tale of sorts about a struggling village that sends their elders up the mountain to starve while allowing the younger generations to prosper. It sounds morbid, and it is, but this is not an easy decision for all parties involved. The film is decidely Japanese, but not in a way I had ever really seen before. It has a very theatrical stage presence but in possibly the most clever way committed to film. I highly recommend reading Ebert’s Great Movies article on The Ballad of Narayama since it will do the film much more justice than I. David Bordwell joined us afterwards to speak on the film and offered some of his amazing analysis, which can be seen in the archive link at the bottom of this page.
Closing off day three was a film I had never heard of, and I presume most (perhaps all) of you have not either, Julia. Starring the illustrious Tilda Swinton, who plays the eponymous protagonist. Though to call her a protagonist is hard since she is a scheming alcoholic that kidnaps a child for ransom and ends up getting in deeper at every turn. It’s almost so complex it seems like a Coen brothers film at times, but the intensity of both Tilda and the other actors in Julia is nothing short of incredible. I strongly urge you to seek this one out, it’s one of the best thrillers I’ve seen. We were also blessed to have Tilda Swinton join us and speak of the film. Admittedly, my exposure to Swinton’s films is spotty but I’ve always been drawn to her work. I can honestly say that her performance here impressed the hell out of me possibly more than anything else I’ve seen from her. Afterwards, we tried staying behind to get a chance for a picture with lovely Tilda, but were unable. Pretty much a huge bummer, but here’s hoping the opportunity arises again. Be sure to watch Tilda’s interview from the archive link below.