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December 22, 2005

Catching up with 2005

Me and You and Everyone We Know
Miranda July - 2005
MGM Region 1 DVD

The Beat that My Heart Skipped/De battre mon coeur s'est arrete
Jacques Audiard - 2005
Wellspring Region 1 DVD

Head-On/Gegen die Wand
Fatih Akin - 2004
Strand Releasing Region 1 DVD

We're at tail end of the year when many other critics, bloggers and others who discuss films have issued their respective lists of the best films of the year. I use to do lists myself. I won't this year for a couple of reasons. Most of the films I see are seen on DVD. The seating is more comfortable, the volume not ear-splitting, the food is better, and the picture is always in focus. Plus, for what I paid for a 60 inch screen, I'm going to make sure I get my money's worth. My other reason is that the advent of the DVD has sometimes made release dates somewhat arbitrary.

Let me explain that further: Most top ten lists are based on when a film is released in the respective critic's country. Head-On was released in its country of origin, Germany, in 2004. The film has made some U.S. lists based on its 2005 theatrical release. This works well when the only films discussed are films seen in theatrical or festival release in a given year. The release date as the only frame of reference becomes questionable when one sees a film on DVD prior to its U.S. release, as I have done with the Russian Night Moves, or when one sees a film that may not get a U.S. theatrical release or be available as a Region 1 DVD such as Spider Forest. Charles Chaplin made his film Limelight in 1952. The film was did not get a Los Angeles theatrical run until 1972. Based on Limelight's Los Angeles release date, Chaplin was nominated for his musical score against The Godfather and Napoleon and Samantha. For those reasons, I feel that creating a "2005" list would be impossible.

Nonetheless, I felt somewhat obligated to catch up with some films that have appeared on other lists of the best films of 2005. What I did like about You and Me and Everyone We Know was that the film had real looking people with crummy apartments and dead-end jobs. One scene that worked quite well was when Miranda July sees the man she's infatuated with from to far a distance to know what he is saying to his ex-wife. We see the couple from July's point of view, with each person speaking July's imagined words of romantic banter. A second shot of the couple shows us what they are really saying to each other. While I found the use of a young boy as an internet lover questionable, July did make an interesting exploration of the difference between private and public personas, and the quest for reciprocal love.

The Beat that My Heart Skipped is less of a remake of Fingers than a reworking of James Toback's film. The character of Tom, played by Romain Duris is more fully developed than Harvey Keitel's Jimmy Fingers. Audiard adds more to the father and son relationship so that the film is about more than a part-time gangster with aspirations to be a concert pianist. While Audiard repeated several scenes almost as they were in the original, one major change is that he eliminated the character of the mother who is refered to but not seen. In both films, the mother was a concert pianist who has inspired her son to pursue music professonally. The deeper exploration of the dynamics between father and son, as well as scenes showing Tom's struggle to attain professional level musicianship distinguish the new film.

Head-On is an appropriate title for a film where one of the characters drives into a wall, and characters dive into love, hate, drink and drugs, without thoughts of the consequences. The film begins with two characters meeting in a mental hospital, both Turks living in Germany. Sibel insists on marrying Cahit primarily to get out of her parents' house. As expected, the two fall in love with each other in spite of themselves. After that, the film goes in several unexpected directions. The concept of direction by indirection was both literally and humorously explored in Alin's In July. Akin discussed Head-On in Indiewire. The actress who played Sibel, Sibel Kekilli has a promising career in spite of news about her previous screen roles. I was more shocked and saddened to read that this uniquely beautiful woman used her Head-On earnings to pay for a nose job.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at December 22, 2005 10:23 PM


Head-On is one of my favorite films of 2005. After years of stagnant mediocrity, a new German cinema has been born, and this film is but one of many from promising new directors that I saw in 2005.

When the film was released in Germany, the press had a field day with her porn past. She was hounded by journalists who kept asking her about it, and naturally some enterprising porn merchant repackaged all her old films.

Sad about the nose job.

Posted by: Filmbrain at December 23, 2005 11:39 AM

I have much to catch up with from 2005 as well. I am taking this space to thank you for this blog, and for so often taking the time to read mine. I have seen few people in my life with such far-ranging, eclectic taste in movies. What I really love is that while you've seen just about everything (give or take a few 2005 releases) you still approach film from the perspective of someone who loves it, highbrow, lowbrow and all the brows between. Happy Holidays and a bright and beautiful 2006 to you and your SO. May the year bring you swinging through Toronto while I am here!

Posted by: Campaspe at December 24, 2005 10:03 PM