Author: Tami Smith

THIRD PERSON

The three major female characters in THIRD PERSON do not get a fair treatment in a screenplay written and directed by Paul Haggis. The male characters do not fare any better.

EXHIBITION

D “likes it fast” while H “likes to play”. After twenty years of such marital bliss this forty-something married artistic couple, without children, has decided to move on and sell their house. The house in question is not your ordinary flat but a towering citadel, in West London’s Chelsea neighborhood. It is a real house, not a set, which was built in 1969 by James Melvin, a modernist architect, who lived there with his wife for many years. This development has three floors with a spiral staircase running through it, and glass walls. People entering the shrine must remove their shoes. It has a private garage, a swimming pool and a garden, not to mention some working rooms, living room and a full size kitchen. The neighborhood is going through some structural changes and D has some concerns and anxieties about selling it to a developer that may implode the building, rebuild and divide the new creation to many rental apartments.

AUGUSTINE

Charcot Island in Antarctica was discovered by Jean-Baptiste Charcot, who named it in honor of his father, Professor Jean-Martin Charcot, the founder of modern neurology. AUGUSTINE, a fact-based film, takes us to the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris where Charcot (Vincent Lindon) developed his theory on hypnosis and hysteria in the late 19th-century. A nineteen-year old kitchen-maid, Augustine (Soko) comes to the hospital for treatment for convulsions and seizures that left her with a deformed right eye and later on with left hand paralysis. Charcot finds Augustine a fascinating subject to study and present to his medical colleges in Paris. For members of the school, the patient’s susceptibility to hypnotism is synonymous with hysteria, and Augustine’s case fits the bill. Thus starts the “show-and-tell” presentations, where Charcot brings Augustine on stage, has her hypnotized and collapse on the floor with convulsions, all to the thunderous applause of his medical colleagues.

ANY DAY NOW

Nowadays same-sex couples residing in Utah or Mississippi cannot legally adopt children at all. Sixteen other states in the U.S. allow joint-gay adoptions, among which is the state of California. This was not always the case in the Golden State. If you were a homosexual/lesbian person wanting to adopt a child you faced a tough court system and stood a miniscule chance of winning.

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) liked to be surrounded by women, especially by cousins. In 1905 he married Eleanor Roosevelt, his fifth-cousin once removed, and later on in life developed “personal relationships” with Margaret “Daisy” Suckley, sixth cousin once removed. In addition to the above FDR resided in his mother’s house even in adulthood and let her make decisions involving his marital life, had intimate relations with his wife’s social secretary Lucy Mercer and later on his secretary Marguerite “Missy” LeHand etc. During the first eleven years of his marriage he kept Eleanor busy giving birth to six children, but soon thereafter started his affair with Lucy Mercer. His tempo did not slow down even after being stricken with Polio in 1921.

WAGNER & ME

During the mid-point in WAGNER & ME, a documentary narrated by Stephen Fry, the latter interviews Eva Wagner, the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner. Since the subject is “not willing” she sends Fry on his “merrily way” after a few minutes. Fry is not hurt, looks at the camera and whispers, with a smile: “Woo, I touched a Wagner.”

RUST & BONE

In one of RUST & BONE’s most surreal scene, in which some viewers may be reminded of EYES WITHOUT A FACE, Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) wakes up from a deep sleep and finds herself in a hospital bed bathed in a humming blue neon light above. She feels disoriented, wants to get out of bed, takes the blanket off and finds, to her great horror, that both her legs were amputated below the knees. This is not a dream from which one wakes up, and director Jacques Audiard does not spare us any of the trials and tribulations that are to come. Stephanie had been injured during a work-related accident in a marine entertainment park and lost both her legs. After a few months she is fitted with metal legs and is able to walk without physical therapy (this can happen in the movies!).

ANNA KARENINA

ANNA KARENINA is a tragic story of a married aristocrat-socialite from Saint Petersburg and her affair with an affluent count, a cavalry officer, circa 1874. The young officer is willing to marry her if she can leave her husband. She is shunned by the Russian society and becomes more isolated, growing possessive and paranoid by his alleged infidelities, a situation that will lead to her suicide.