Monday, 26 October 2009

What a cute little dog

On the whole, Mrs Fool and I have quite different tastes in movies. This can make deciding what to see whenever we want to see a movie or DVD together difficult. Over the years I've learnt a trick or two to get Mrs Fool to watch something she wouldn’t otherwise watch. One of these is to highlight an aspect of a movie I know will appeal to her. So when I wanted to take her to see Encounters at the End of the World, for example, all I had to do was mention there were penguins in it and she was hooked.

Although not quite on the same level as her adoration of penguins, Mrs Fool is also a big fan of Juliette Binoche, which is how I got her to agree to watch Hidden a few months ago. Ever since then I've wanted to watch more of Michael Haneke's work. While at Alice in Videoland the other day I came across another Michael Haneke movie starring Juliette Binoche. Mrs Fool didn’t really enjoy Hidden, so instead of saying, "Hey look, here's an obscure European art house movie by the same guy who made that weird move without an ending we saw the other month," I said, "Hey look, here's a French movie with your favourite actress, Juliette Binoche." And so it was that a couple of Saturdays ago we sat down to watch Code Unknown.

Judging from Mrs Fool's reaction after watching Code Unknown, I think I'm going to have to come up with another trick to get her to watch movies I want to see. In fact I'm pretty sure her words were the same as those she muttered after watching Hidden: "Yoku wakaranai." ("I didn't really understand that.") To be perfectly honest, there were things about Code Unknown I didn't understand. There were also things about Hidden I couldn't work out at first, but at least in the case of that movie I was able to make sense of it over the following days. Nearly a fortnight after seeing Code Unknown, I'm still unsure what Haneke was trying to say in the movie.

Strangely enough, this doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. In fact I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed the artistry of each scene, including the one with no dialogue in which Juliette Binoche stands doing her ironing, and the one in which the farmer and his son sit at a table eating stewed beets, in which the only line of dialogue is, "Beets. That's all there is." I enjoyed the climactic last scene with the drumming in the background (Haneke doesn't use background music in his films). And I enjoyed trying to piece all the scenes in the movie together in my head in a way that would give me a clue as to what the movie was about (other than the overall theme of communication, or rather miscommunication, discernible from the title).

I was thinking about this while walking back from the supermarket the other day, and decided that there are lots of examples of art that we can enjoy and appreciate on certain levels without necessarily fully understanding the intentions or thought processes of its creators. I love looking at a lot of Cezanne's paintings, but I have no real idea why he chose to paint the things he did in the way he did or what he was hoping to achieve in painting them. And how many people who enjoy looking at paintings by the old masters are aware of the religious and other symbolism these artists employed?

1 comment:

Grant said...

Van Eyck was amazing. Without him there'd have been no Rembrandt, Vermeer or Giorgione.