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Short Takes on Film
Ben Nyce | Via Latina


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This new column will refer to films currently playing or available on DVD.

What is it like to live into old age and find one’s partner in irreversible decline? Michael Haneke’s tender, severe Amour looks at an elderly couple’s predicament when the wife, a former teacher of gifted pianists, suffers a series of strokes. Her husband refuses all help and takes on her care by himself. In his obsessiveness he is, as she calls him, a “kindly monster.” Two of France’s greatest actors Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, both in their eighties, play the main roles. At a recent showing at the La Jolla Village Theater the audience was rapt.

For a light-hearted evening do watch The Women On The 6th Floor. The film is a kind of inversion of Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey, in which the vivacious Spanish maids, living above a rather staid socialite couple, cause the husband to unbuckle himself and begin to enjoy life.

An oldie but goodie is Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac, a black comedy filled with bizarre behavior performed by Donald Pleasence and Lionel Stander. Pleasence’s character is hanging out at a dilapidated castle with his gorgeous young wife when they are invaded by a couple of wounded robbers. The resulting drama is both unsettling and hilarious.

Ben Nyce taught literature and film at USD. He is the author of “Satyajit Ray, A Study of His Films” and “Scorcese Up Close.”



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