Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami – 2010) A

IMDB says this is a 2010 film but I am sure it was released here this past year. My point? Why was this smart, perfectly scripted, well acted and thought-provoking art film not nominated for any Academy award. It’s certainly one of the bast movies of last year and way better than most of the 9 Best Picture nominees. How can I describe this movie without spoiling it to the 4 or 5 people who read this blog…on ¬†the other hand I am not sure this movie is “spoilable”. It kind of reminds me on one level of many films that focus on conversations between 2 or 3 characters, like “Before Sunrise” or “My Dinner with Andre” or even Bergman’s “Persona“.

The couple in question are a British author, played by William Shimell, and a French woman, played by the great Juliette Binoche, who works at a small town art gallery. The setting is a small Tuscan town. He is promoting his latest book in which he argues that a good copy of a work of art is just as valuable as the original work. It’s all in how we perceive the work. Why is the Mona Lisa any less of a work of art if we discover today that a forger made it 200 years ago from the Leonardo Da Vinci original? That is the subject they start discussing while they drive to get coffee and she asks him to autograph a few of his books. soon the whole idea of who they are and what their relationship is starts to evolve. Pretty soon we are not sure if we are watching a real conversation, a real relationship or a copy of either or neither. In the end, does it matter?

I really cannot stress enough how well these two actors play their roles. How their mood, conversation and facial expressions seem to ebb and flow. I loved Kiarostami’s style here and how all his shots¬†play into the whole concept of reality and copies. We see a lot of reflections, many shots where Binoche is just looking at a mirror (directly at us) and there is a fantastic scene involving an old couple that also seems as one thing but ends up being another just by shifting the camera angle. Certified Copy is showing on Netflix view instantly now and it is very much worth the time.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda – 2012) D-

I am so surprised (or maybe I really should not be) to hear that nutty conservatives are actually upset about the “message” of this flick. Seriously?? Anyways, this film’s only flaw is that it is very very boring and has not a shred of amusement in it.

Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols – 2011) B+

I am not sure how I feel or what I think of the ending of Take Shelter. Is it literal? Is it another of Curtis’ dreams? Something else entirely? I’m leaning more towards that second explanation. Curtis is slowly losing his mind. It is a horrible thing to see a man descend slowly into the grip of mental illness and Michael Shannon portrays that perfectly. He’s solemn, quiet, with a face that seems to hold so much pain and tension. As the film and his vivid dreams progress his issues start bubbling to the surface and even though he knows there is a big chance he is going mad, he still acts on his “visions”. He gets obsessed with upgrading his tornado shelter, he alienates his friends and his wife. See, in case he is not going nuts, he wants to be ready for the End of the World! At least, I think that’s how he must be rationalizing his behavior. Jessica Chastain plays his wife. This actress had one hell of an awesome year in 2011 and this role might be her best yet. She plays Sam as a smart, loyal and very loving wife to Curtis. She does not abandon him and seems to be doing anything a reasonable person can do when they are concerned about the well-being of a loved one. Ultimately, whether Curtis’ dreams are real or not does not change the fact that to him they are. That makes Take Shelter a disaster movie with a unique point of view and some stellar performances.