Movie Recommendation- A Talking Picture
A TALKING PICTURE (2003)
With the recent release of The Strange Case of Angelica, the latest (wonderful) film from 102-year-old Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, I thought I’d use this forum to draw your attention to a film he made way back when he was only 94, A Talking Picture. Those who listen to the podcast and have long memories will recall that this ranked as my tenth favorite film of the decade. I imagine my reasons for doing so are similar to Tyler’s reasons for putting Spike Lee’s 25th Hour on his own list. Both films were released in the year or two after the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and both directors certainly had those attacks in mind. While 25th Hour takes a look at the immediate aftermath on the psyche of New Yorks and Americans at large and then poses some questions about how we’ll move forward, de Oliveira’s film tries to contextualize the attacks in the scope of human history. Though the film was released in 2003, it is explicitly set in the summer of 2001. The name A Talking Picture is not just a clever title. It is a film filled with talking from front to back, as a university professor and her young child make their way down the Mediterranean, stopping at every port and engaging in long discussions about the locale’s past and mankind’s place in it. These conversations are filled with an alternate pining for lost ways of thought and dismayed descriptions of past wars and other acts of violence, serving as a sort of editorialized history of Western civilization. The breathtaking final act – featuring one of John Malkovich’s best performances of the decade, as well as turns from Catherine Deneuve, Irene Papas and Stefania Sandrelli – puts the modern age in its place as another turn in the cycle.