Thursday, March 8, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks - Just One Day

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

Today on Thursday Movie Picks: The Aristotelian Unities! Or, at least, one of them!

For those of you who didn't have it drilled into your head at a young age, the Aristotelian unities are rules for drama established by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in his Poetics. They are the unity of action (there should only be one action that the play follows, with minimal subplots), the unity of place (the play should exist in only one physical space, and there should be no compression of geography), and the unity of time (the action of a play should occur over a period of no more than 24 hours) - the last of which is the one we are concerning ourselves with today.

Of course, film is a different medium from theater, and the Aristotelian unities most certainly do not apply, as cameras can take us anywhere at any time and show passage of time in ways productions on stage can not. But still, there is something about films that take advantage of the unities and pare things back to basics, but still feel cinematic. Like these movies below.

Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995) Jesse and Céline meet on a trans-European train, and Jesse convinces her to get off with him in Vienna, before she continues on to Paris and he catches a flight back to the states. They spend one magical night together walking around Vienna and talking to each other - deeper than most people would get on any regular sort of first date. When the train comes the next morning, they agree to meet in Vienna again in six months, without exchanging any contact information. Linklater and his stars, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, create an atmosphere that is just intoxicating - you may find Jesse and Céline's vaguely hipster-ish philosophizing insufferable, but there's very little about it that's pretentious. We're watching two people really get to know each other - in a way we usually don't get to see in films. And it's so magical that you would think that there's no way this creative team could ever capture that lightning in a bottle twice. Except...

Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004) ...nine years later, they did. Jesse has become a writer, and has written a bestseller about the night he and Céline spent in Vienna. In a stop on his book tour in Paris, he spots Céline in the crowd, and they pick up right where they left off, walking and talking around Paris for about an hour before Jesse has to catch a flight. Strangely, Before Sunset is even more romantic than Before Sunrise, because of that nine year gap and the effect that night had on each of them. Delpy and Hawke were co-writers of the screenplay with Linklater, and you can feel how personal the story and characters are to them radiating through the screen. It's a beautiful film, with one of the all-time great endings, and we all would have been satisfied if they had left it there, but...

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater, 2013) ...nine years later, they went and made it a trilogy. Before Midnight is far and away the most frustrating of the three films, but that's because it takes place at the most frustrating time in Jesse and Céline's lives - indeed, the most frustrating time in most people's lives. The two have married and are parents to young twin girls, and step-parents to Jesse's teenage son, who splits his time between his mom in Chicago and Jesse in Europe. Jesse and Céline find themselves at a crossroads, and the decisions they make will affect not just their lives, but their children's lives as well. Before Midnight is set at the moment when the romance of a coupling has worn off, and you have to choose to work to find it again or let it die, and watching these two go through that in real time is often excruciatingly hard to watch. But it's also incredibly rewarding, thanks to the incredible performances at its center.

11 comments:

  1. Kudos to doing a theme within the theme but unfortunately I am not a fan of the series. Well I've only seen the first which I hated. I'm indifferent to Julie Delpy and she's the member of the cast I feel the most warmly towards. Ethan Hawke to me is a big dirtbag whose appeal completely escapes me. Add into that the fact that Linklater has made precisely one film I liked-Me and Orson Welles (Dazed and Confused had a fantastic soundtrack but I thought the movie was stupid) and I just have no pull to see the other films but I know they have their devoted fans.

    No theme from me this week but I know you'll like at least one of my picks.

    High Noon (1952)-Just married to his Quaker bride Amy (Grace Kelly) that morning Sherriff Will Kane (Gary Cooper who won the Oscar for this performance) has quit his post and plans a quiet farm life away from the town. Word comes that a killer he had imprisoned 5 years ago has been paroled and is arriving with his gang on the noon train intent on a showdown. Ignoring advice from all to flee, including successful businesswoman Helen Ramirez (an outstanding Katy Jurado) his former mistress, Will tries to gather help to stand up to the outlaws but finds all the townsfolk turning their backs on him and he must face them alone at High Noon. A thinly veiled allegory for the blacklist which affected many involved with the film.

    Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)-A young singer, Cleo (Corinne Marchand) must wait two hours for the results of a biopsy and drifts around Paris seeing friends and considering the exigencies of life. Part of the Nouvelle Vague movement this isn’t for everyone but it has its charms.

    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)-“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” That’s the credo of uber popular high school student Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) who decides that today is too perfect to be wasted in school. After convincing his parents he’s sick he gathers up his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) for a day of adventure in the city while his suspicious principal Mr. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) tries to catch him red-handed. Broderick is madly charismatic in the lead and surrounded by a fantastic cast including Edie McClurg who is hysterical as Rooney’s secretary.

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    1. LOVE all three of your picks! High Noon is a triumph on every level. Cléo is one of my all time favorite movies, and who doesn't love Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Matthew Broderick was my idol for quite a while.

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  2. This is one of my favourite trilogies. Great picks!

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    1. Mine too! It's so wonderful in many different ways.

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  3. I have still never seen any of these movies and I know I need to. Some day...some day. lol

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    1. Oh, you must! They're all so good!

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  4. I might be the only movie blogger who hasn't seen any of this trilogy.

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    1. haha just look above you - Brittani hasn't either! They're definitely not for everyone, but the first two are kind of impossibly romantic, and taken as a whole, the trilogy is quite a powerful statement.

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  5. I haven’t seen any of these even though I would love to see the locations since I have been to Vienna and Paris( don’t hate me). I don’t care for Ethan Hawke and find him ...greasy but maybe I shall finally give these films a try even though I don’t care for romance films

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  6. I think I like Before Midnight the least...but I've only seen it just the once.

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    1. Yeah, Midnight is definitely my least favorite, too.

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