Departures (2008)

I went to see this last fall with Jenny and Steve at the Second Friday Film Series at First Presbyterian Church. An Academy Award winner for Best Foregin Language Film, this story takes place in Japan and tells about an unemployed cellist who applies for a job in the travel industry and ends up as an apprentice to an undertaker of sorts who is desparate to train someone to take over his business. The young man endures a difficult passage training in the art of preparing the dead for the next life, but the experience opens up his life to love and reconnection with the father he lost contact with.


Julia (2009)

Tilda Swinton owns this story of a self-destructive, chain-smoking alcoholic who can't hold a job and attempts to survive by getting involved in a half-baked plot to kidnap a boy for ransom money. Thoroughly engaging to watch, she is truly convincing as a hardcore alcoholic, though I understand the actor neither smokes nor drinks. More interesting, I learned that Tilda Swinton has a curious living arrangement in the Scottish Highlands with her 31 year old painter boyfriend, her teenage twins...and their father.


Under The Sand (2001)

Anything that stars british actor, Charlotte Rampling is bound to be interesting. I wanted to see this after I had seem her in the suspenseful and steamy 2003 film, Swimming Pool. In that one she was a writer alone on vacation at a friend's home when her visit is intruded upon by a surprise visit from the home owner's wild daughter. Under the Sand is a french language film about a similarly introspective woman alone after the sudden disappearance of her husband. Here she is a literature professor who is teaching her students from Virginia Woolf's 1931 book, The Waves, while she struggles with the sad mysterious loss at a beach house on the coast of France. This is the kind of movie that defines the appeal of the movie-watching experience. Charlotte Rampling's breakout role was in 1966 as the bitchy but beautiful roommate of Lynn Redgrave in Georgy Girl. I may have to watch that one again soon.