Friday, June 6, 2014
When you think summer movies, you think blockbusters, flying super heroes, franchises and Disney, all of which I love. But I have to admit it was really refreshing to see two small and thoughtful films back to back - Words & Pictures and The Fault in Our Stars (click for post) coincidentally both are about love of literature and falling in love while dealing with physical limitations beyond one's control.
In Words and Pictures Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) is a successful, New York painter struck down in the prime of her creative life by Rheumatoid Arthritis, and finds herself teaching fine art in a small town in Maine, to honor students at a prestigious high school academy. The first day of class, Dina states something to the effect that words can lie and deceive, but images are truth.
Already teaching at the Academy is Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) a once lauded and published writer whose glory days are fading fast, so he becomes what most tortured and blocked writers become - an alcoholic; nightly drinking several vodkas w/extra limes and taking to eating lunch in his car where a flask is hidden away. But he's also fun loving and passionate about language, often good-naturedly demanding fellow faculty play his multi-syllable word game and interested in inspiring his students to think about the impact eloquent writers and speakers have had in history.
When Marcus, already attracted to Delsanto, hears her disparaging marks about words vs pictures, he throws down a gauntlet and challenges her to prove "a picture is worth a thousand words" but mostly he just wants a reason to connect with her, even if it's in mock battle.
In terms of the student story lines, young actors, and often overly pedantic dialogue, this movie will never be the next Dead Poets Society. But in terms of exploring that time in life when you thought you had it all together and now on the other side of 40 you're starting over, and worse yet, your body is betraying you... not just Dina dealing with the pain of RA, but Jack's alcoholism is as much a physical disease as mental... this is what the movie gets right. Along with the juxtaposition of two artists, one eager and brimming with creative energy, but struggling to give life to that inspiration. The other having lost inspiration and struggling to find that part of himself again.
hmmm... my description sounds darker then the movie's actual tone- director, Fred Schepisi & writer Gerald Di Pego, have created something far from an angst ridden drama, it's just the themes I described keep it from being an ordinary rom/com, albeit for an over 30 audience.
When the credits rolled I was delighted to find out all the wonderful paintings in the movie are actually Binoche's own work! Turns out she's an artist of some caliber and has been for years.
Around the Web
Ever since receiving a commission from the Cahiers du Cinéma for a series of portraits in July 2007, Ms. Binoche has not stopped painting during her movie shoots. But she had been painting off set for far longer, and first showed her work publicly in the 1990s (in 1991 her art work was featured in the movie The Lovers on the Bridge, in which she starred as a painter, and in 1993 she exhibited a series of work done in collaboration with French artist Christian Fenouillat). Favoring portraits, Ms. Binoche has not only depicted many of the famous directors with whom she has worked but also characters she has played, in what is a rather unique spin on the self-portrait tradition. “In-Eyes” will feature 29 triptychs, each including one of these “in character” self-portraits, a portrait of the related movie’s director, and a poem addressed to the director. These works offer a personal view, full of emotion, of the key encounters that have influenced Juliette Binoche’s movie career... Artdaily.org READ MORE
T &T's LAMB Score: 3 outta 5
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