For Reel

Things to Come (2016)
October 26, 2016, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mia Hansen-Løve
4.5 Stars
things-to-comeAll of Mia Hansen-Løve’s films revolve around destabilizing moments in a person’s life—whether those be tragedies (Father of My Children) or heartbreaks (Goodbye, First Love). Things to Come is perhaps her most complex story of a life crisis in that it is not a story of discovery, but rather of accepting and surviving. That Isabelle Huppert’s Nathalie is a philosophy instructor doesn’t provide a sense of escape or at least a rationalization for the things that happen to her—in fact, the film’s treatment of philosophy is hugely ambiguous, serving both as the basis for a genuinely thoughtful community (the relationship between Huppert and her students is touching) and as the catalyst for many conversations about how philosophy needs to adapt the modern world (Nathalie is pitched modernist, tacky covers for her seminal philosophy texts by her publishers). When Nathalie tells an old student (Roman Kolinka) that, “I’m lucky to be fulfilled intellectually,” the sentiment is undeniably genuine but certainly more complicated than that given the levels of grief she undergoes. Whether philosophy can actually be the key to helping her accept her recent string of tragedies, however, is actually less important than her fitting the role of instructor— Hansen-Løve seems to argue that performance and self-acceptance go hand-in-hand, a point that becomes particularly lucid when Nathalie finds herself at a screening of Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy.

Things to Come (1936)
January 10, 2012, 3:05 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William Cameron Menzies

With a screenplay by H.G. Wells, loosely adapted from his own 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come, the Alexander Korda production Things to Come is notable for its production design of a futuristic utopia, and in its nearly accurate prediction of the start of the second World War. Welles writes that a decades-long conflict beginning in 1940 reduces mankind back to barbarism. In 1970, a small, functioning airplane lands near a surviving tribe, whose pilot claims to be of a technologically progressive community known as “Wings Over the World”. The picture’s anxieties about aerial bombing and poisonous gas reflect the concerns of the populous in the lead-up to the war and, just as the nuclear terror pictures of the 1950s did, the fear is articulated through large-scale destruction and human suffering. As interesting as the picture is as an assessment of the pre-war British mind set, the filmmaking is lifeless. Director William Cameron Menzies was most known for his Oscar-winning production design on Gone with the Wind, however he doesn’t seem to be particularly adept in dealing with actors. The staging is dull and static – in each scene of dialogue, nobody has anything particularly interesting to do – and Ralph Richardson is miscast as an ignorant warlord, so excessive in his fur vest that one might guess that he’s attempting to channel Emil Jannings.