Copie Conforme (Certified Copy) – Abbas Kiarostami – 2010

Kiarostami’s Certified Copy is a modern masterpiece in, ironically, its originality and its approach to time and particularly the seamless evolution of time wrapped into an afternoon, which is then wrapped into 1h 45 minutes. Just from this brief explanation, we can grasp an understanding of the deftness and diligence required by Kiarostami and his team to realise this project.

In Tuscany to promote his latest book, a middle-aged British writer meets a French woman who leads him to the village of Lucignano. While there, a chance question reveals something deeper”

The enigmatic nature of the film would perhaps be off-putting to many, and I will admit now that I was cautiously approaching it, as I worried its mysteries would be lost on me. If it weren’t for the dazzling performances of Juliette Binoche and William Shimell, I’m sure this would be the case. Binoche was the stand-out performer for me as her growing display of stress and instability allured exponentially to the supposed timeline of their relationship.

Another wondrously thought-provoking aspect of the film was the nature of the copy and the original (in art) as aptly mentioned by Shimell when referring to his book. Kiarostami makes the application of his characters’ theories to his relationship with his wife and makes conclusions regarding the nature of relationships in all. For example, many times during the film, the characters attempt to re-create copies of the beginning of the relationship. This is suggested many times throughout the film, some examples including: the hand on the shoulder scene which fails as we see by the subsequent scene in the restaurant. Another example would be the end of  the film in which they are in the room they spent their honeymoon in and she tries to remind him of things that were there and he fails to remember. This recurring theme throughout the film is contradictory to the suggestions proclaimed by Shimell’s character in his book where he states that the copy in art is just as valuable and tactful as the original, yet his entire relationship seems to contradict this.

In conclusion, this film is the very definition of enigmatic, yet has an innocuous charm that keeps drawing thought and attention to its story and this is what makes it such a great picture. What else is particularly alluring about it is that I can be certain that the second viewing will unravel and clear up many more mysteries of the film, its wrapped up so tightly that it will always deliver. This film deserves no less than an 8/10.



Rome, Open City – Roberto Rossellini (1945)

After reviewing a war classic in Kubrick’s ‘Paths of Glory’ & a classic of Italian Cinema in ‘La Dolce Vita’ I decided to fuse the two genres by watching Roberto Rossellini’s legendary breakthrough film that combined both of these in the form of ‘Rome, Open City’. Having filmed this secretly during the abhorrent occupation of Rome by the Nazis, there can be little disagreement that this film is about as real as a war film can get. Rossellini’s deft merger of fiction with reality provides us with an insightful perspective into the life of the Roman during this period. 

“Open City is a landmark in film history. Filmed in secrecy during the Nazi occupation of Italy, the film shows a realistic portrayal of the underground resistance in Italy in 1945. The film has strong impacting imagery with it’s mix of fiction and reality that strengthened Italian Neo-realism and the film industry.”

The most powerful scene in the film that really embedded the message was in the form of a dialogue between a  German Officer and the Major during the torture of ‘Manfredi’:

[From IMDb]

Hartman: 25 years ago, I commanded firing squads in France. I was a young officer. I believed then, too, in a German “master-race.” But the French patriots also died without talking. We Germans simply refuse to believe that people want to be free.

Major Bergman: [Taken aback] You’re drunk, Hartman!

Hartman: Yes, I’m drunk… I get drunk every night to forget. It doesn’t help. We can’t get anywhere but kill, kill, kill! We have sown Europe with corpses… and from those graves rises an incredible hate… HATE!… everywhere hate! We are being consumed by hatred… without hope.

This is for me the consummation of the general disposition of the Romans towards the war, but this was too met by the ferocity of the final scene in which the Priest, who plays an apt voice of reason as they did for many during the war, is shot in front of a firing squad. 

In conclusion, the reason my review is shorter than previous reviews, is that it doesn’t need much analysis, it’s a masterpiece in itself and its messages and sentiments are there for all to see. As a result I urge you to watch it if you haven’t and I give this a rating of 7/10.



Paths of Glory – Stanley Kubrick (1957)

As a third piece I thought it apt to pay homage to one of the true legends of cinema, Stanley Kubrick. To achieve what a legend such as Kubrick has, is tribute enough to such a talent. However, many of his later classics subjugate the brilliance of films like Paths of Glory (and Dr. Strangelove) which was arguably Kubrick’s first masterful classic. When Kubrick’s name is mentioned it is often in laud of films such as ‘A Clockwork Orange’, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ or ‘The Shining’, however, Paths of Glory is a truly grand production worth every inkling of praise it has and will ever receive.

“This powerful, fact-based absurdity-of-war film stars Kirk Douglas as a commanding officer who defends three scapegoats on trial for a failed offensive that occurred within the French Army in 1916.”

I would argue that what makes the film a must-see is it’s riveting fusion of the dichotomy between being both a visual essay concerning the outlandishness and unjust essence of war with the compelling tale of Colonel Dax. A commanding officer who embarks on the defence of these ‘scapegoats’ that have been accused of cowardice in the face of an adverse attack in which the odds were overwhelmingly against their favour. Given the year, 1957, what makes the film a truly brilliant picture is it’s believability and emotion, it was completed with the same diligence and true-to-life prowess of Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’ . Although there are clear technical and aesthetic hindrances of Paths of Glory (that could only improve with improvement of technology) in comparison to Full Metal Jacket, it has a visceral core of emotion that Kubrick has so deftly conjured throughout his plethora of creations.

Paths of Glory was far from a commercial success in 1957, I can only assume that the issue of war at the time was still a subject perhaps undesirable to the viewer. This could be because many, understandably, wanted to shun and forget the horrors of both wars that had undoubtedly affected their lives and families. However, with the benefit of hindsight, the film has become a war classic and appropriately so, as there were a mere handful of films that truly challenged the hubris and perplexing nature of war. The audacity of Kubrick’s classic can only be best summarized by its well-known tagline: “Never has the screen thrust so deeply into the guts of war!”

To conclude this review of the film, I would urge anyone who is curious about the nature of war to watch Paths of Glory for its chilling honesty and laudable aesthetics. As far as a rating goes, it deserves no less than an 8/10.

Thanks for reading.