7:00 PM, 6th April, 2013
Alice (played utterly naturally by award-winning actress Taglioni) is a philosophical pharmacist who has embraced her future as a single woman. Whenever she needs a listening ear, she turns to Woody Allen, whose poster conveniently offers sage advice in lines from his movies. Allen’s movies and consequential imaginary pep talks, meeting a philosophical need in Alice’s life, offer a comfort that, despite her charms, Alice hasn’t yet found in love.
Though willing to meet those men whom her concerned friends and family push into her path, Alice won’t bend to become somebody she’s not. So when one of these inadvertent suitors, Victor (Bruel), takes a genuine interest in her, he soon finds that, though not lacking a sense of humour, Alice is all substance and no nonsense, and no pushover. And she finds plenty to distract her in the foibles of her family and another suitor’s defter attentions.
With its Hollywood-class colour grading in a beautiful European-style cinematic profile, this is one film you can watch repeatedly for its unprepossessing artistry alone; visually reminiscent of Allen’s own Midnight in Paris, it’s entrancing to the last frame. But see it because it’s the loveliest story you’ll watch this year.
8:32 PM, 6th April, 2013
A primary school, and in particular the class directly affected, are in a state of shock and confusion after the suicide of a teacher. A replacement teacher seems to come out of nowhere – Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar (Fellag) – and with his combination of traditional teaching and compassion, gradually guides the students through the grief process. But Lazhar has his own anguish he has to deal with.
This film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar last year, and also won the 2012 Sydney Film Festival Audience Award. And it’s easy to see why – it has that crowd-pleasing nature that many grown-up fables do, combined with a documentary style that appeals to many critics and film fanatics. As a teacher, I can also attest that it doesn’t shy away from many of the classroom issues involved with modern education – the freedom for every teacher to invest in their classroom as they see fit (including the use of more traditional practices), the need to reach out to students in need whilst working within a ban on teacher/student physical contact, and the need to work with students’ grief whilst simultaneously dealing with parents who will have their own (generally ill-informed, but hey, everyone’s an expert, aren’t they?) take on how to deal with death when it comes to children.
Don’t be late for this movie, as the opening scene is one of the most powerful. And then you’re in for one of the most moving, life-celebratory films on this semester’s program.