One Hundred Nails

Not rated yet!
Director
Ermanno Olmi
Runtime
1 h 32 min
Release Date
30 March 2007
Genres
Overview
An Italian professor seeks refuge in the quiet, peaceful ruins of an old building.
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  • TIFF Capsules — Day 2

    TIFF Capsules — Day 2

    Not a very good day, frankly. One (fully expected to be) great film and several disappointing misfires, even the Ang Lee to some extent.

    YOU, THE LIVING, Roy Andersson, Sweden — 9
    The only possible criticism of this film is that it’s the same movie as SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR — Charles Odell said it [mostly] could have been the outtakes from the 2000 masterpiece. LIVING is (very) marginally less implausibly surrealistic, but the same distinctive style is abundant — the forced perspective on the sets, the nailed-down camera with a handful of zooms in and out, the single-take scenes, the white-faced characters, the incantatory dialogue, the shot-in-studio claustrophobia with nary a drop of natural light in sight, the same dread-filled apocalyptic tone, though that doesn’t kick in until later. LIVING starts out funnier than SONGS, and if you’re expecting a pure comedy, you may think it loses gas in its last third, as it does become a bit more serious. I just want to tick off the funny scenes like a litany: the dog, the tablecloth, non-alcoholic beer, the haircut, the execution, the sensitive 90s biker, the trial. The key is offhand gestures that are ignored (e.g., a door closing) or things that build up from nowhere in particular, like a grain of sand that becomes a pearly before your eyes (the scenes in the apartments that we’ve just seen “across the yard”). It’s a minimalist and very dry style of humor that is so perfectly in synch with my own sense of humor that Andersson may be incapable of making a film I wouldn’t like. The film does take a darker turn (an untypically unperceptive Mike aside) — there are several scenes that are not played for jokes at all, often associated with fourth-wall breaking (the psychiatrist, the happy wedding). And both religion and music, often in concert, are foregrounded as creating both community and the hope of a better life “across the Jordan”; one song, played more than once during LIVING, was identified by Robert as an evangelical hymn. Given SONGS as well, Andersson has a sensibility with a hotline to mine.

    THE MOURNING FOREST, Naomi Kawase, Japan — 5
    To be perfectly frank, I was nodding off on and off during this one (and I didn’t nod off at all during the 915am LIVING, so I know it’s at-least partially FOREST’s fault). Clearly, Kawase has an eye for both the sweeping landscape extreme long shot and an urgent verite-style “among the weeds.” Just as clearly, she has no ability to create interesting characters or plots. The tone is completely different, but FOREST in some ways reminded me of L’AVVENTURA — beginning with an ensemble, of residents and youthful caregivers at an old-folks home, that narrows focus to a couple of characters, and with the drama coming in natural correlatives in the landscape. And like with my first viewing of the Antonioni, I knew when I saw the last shot — of two people embracing, of two trees intertwined — that I *should* be getting more out this image than I objectively am.

    ONE HUNDRED NAILS, Ermanno Olmi, Italy — 4
    A film so ham-fisted that it can’t pass for exhibition in Israel. You know it’s all too obvious when a Christ-figure protagonist is called “Jesus Christ” by other characters. And when his resemblance to Jesus is noted in police Identikit descriptions. And when an old man asks him to tell the story about the rich boy and we hear (a version of) the Prodigal Son parable. And when the central character’s friends ask him to get more wine because we can’t have a celebration without wine (as even Jesus said, it’s pointed out). Oh … and I’m not sure why Our Lord would destroy books, but I guess Olmi sees Jesus as a existential personalist. I was liking this film for a while, as the central character drops out of society to live like a hermit, like Jesus going off to the desert. And it does close with a lovely image, of candles lining the route of the expected return. But what did any of this have to do with the government’s Po River projects that (apparently) threaten the Apostles remained obscure at best.

    LES CHANSONS D’AMOUR, Christophe Honore, France — 4
    The official Cordon Bleu Recipe for this French dish: Take one cup each of UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG and YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT, mix well. But before mixing, take out the hack Michel LeGrand music, both wall-to-wall themes and Mozartian arias, and replace with contemporary Francopop. Also, ditch all choreography, however cheerfully amateurish, and replace with natural movement around sets or streets (also, be sure to keep away Gene Kelly or anyone similar). And who needs those unrealistic candy-pastel colors and even color-coordinated costumes. We can do color *realistically* now dammit. Oh … and speaking of things we can do now … add heaping dollops of sex, of every imaginable variety of Tab A fitting Slot B (can we get those two Deneuve chicks, only make sure that in this opening scene, they’ll be in bed with each other and a man). The product — ick.

    LUST, CAUTION, Ang Lee, Taiwan — 7
    Despite this film’s notorious and rather off-putting sex scenes (which are richly deserving of the NC-17 rating), the best scene in this spy thriller is one that Hitchcock would have been proud of. And that’s not speculation — he actually did make the Gromek scene in TORN CURTAIN, he said, to illustrate a point — how difficult it really is to kill someone. And to be honest, I think Lee actually did his scene on the same point, better — a bit dirtier, just as messy, but doesn’t go on for quite as long and so avoids bad laughter. Yes, I did say that: Ang Lee outdid Hitchcock. To continue the Hitchcock comparisons, the basic scenario here is NOTORIOUS — basically man persuades the woman he loves to sleep with the enemy to advance political intrigue. That comparison is obviously unfair — Lee’s film is a very good literate-midlebrow genre piece (i.e., what he makes), but it isn’t in that category. Why? Imagine Devlin as a politics-only romantic cipher, and also because I simply did not buy the last plot point — the one that takes place in a jeweler’s shop. Still, this is a good film and an expansion of Lee’s major theme of repression. While the early trailers were selling IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, *the* recent film about “passion repressed,” Lee gives us here passion expressed, only for something other than love. Until love (or jealousy or something) gets in the way. And Tony Leung is as good at playing repressed, which he does here for much of the films length, as he was in the Wong Kar-wai film.

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  • TIFFing time again
    (”One Hundred Nails” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    TIFFing time again

    If this year’s Toronto International Film Festival lineup is any indication, it will be a long fall, with the Artist-Industrial Complex lecturing about the evil that is (in the words of this blurb) “the so-called War on Terror” (and the rest of the usual demonology). With that in mind, I didn’t give a bunch of films playing at this year’s festival so much as a second look — here’s the whole list of Toronto movies and presentations that I would not see on principle. I saw the subject matter or read the descriptions, crossed it off and moved on.

    Looking at that list, or rather the length of it (20 films and several presentations) — I really have to wonder if alienating conservative viewers is something Hollywood, Indiewood and the Festival Mafia do as a conscious marketing strategy or is just so much their unstated “Dasein” that they can’t even step outside themselves to see it.

    But in a festival of almost 300 films, that’s not an insurmountable loss. In fact, here is another pretty distinguished list (will try to reconstruct later, VJM) — the films I really wanted to see but probably will not (I may juggle stuff around, depending on buzz). For the most part, it was simply a matter of scheduling, trying to squeeze a quart of 60 must-see films into a pint pot of 50 time slots. You can get to their individual pages from this list-page.

    • Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, Britain) — no explanation needed, I hope
    • The Last Lear (Rituparno Ghosh, India) — Amitabh Bachchan, the world’s biggest star, in his first English role
    • Beyond the Years (Im Kwon-taek, South Korea) — the pansori singer was the best part of Im’s Chunhyang
    • Christopher Columbus: The Enigma (Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal) — another weird-out conversation piece like A Talking Picture?
    • The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette, France) — every film by the New Wave Masters is an event
    • Juliette Binoche in films by Hou Hsiao-hsien and Amos Gitai — can maybe the world’s greatest actress help out torpid auteurs?
    • The Pope’s Toilet (Enrique Fernandez/Cesar Charlone, Uruguay) — wack premise could make a great semi- (or even non-) blasphemous black comedy
    • Juno (Jason Reitman, USA) — Thank You for Smoking as a debut film; plus, later, Mike d’A says strong buzz from Telluride
    • Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, USA) — Ryan Gosling; the word “Lars” and the use a puppet to substitute for a person (Ryan, stay the hell away)
    • Boy A (John Crowley, Britain) — echoes of Nolan’s Memento and the Dardennes’ Le Fils
    • Ellen Burstyn presents Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More (Martin Scorsese, USA) — No explanation needed, I hope

    So … bitching over.

    Unlike last year, I got all my first choices, and this festival is shaping up with the potential to be the greatest ever. After a so-so first day, the potential masterpieces come in daily and in bunches — Andersson, Herzog, Rohmer, Maddin, A. Lee, Baumbach, Olmi, Lee M-s, Ozon. Plus enormous buzz on the Bar-Lev, Van Sant, the Coens and Matsumoto. The films by the uneven Miike and Loach look to fit the maker’s good molds rather than the bad ones. Plus Cannes prize-winners by Mungiu, Kawase, Lee C-d. And my first exposures to Tarr, Reygadas, and Jiang. The Breillat and Arcand even seem tolerable. A rediscovered Ford silent, plus a contemporary-made silent slapstick homage. Even Greenaway, whose last film became the first I ever walked out on, is cause for optimism — getting back into Dutch paintings and a group of militiamen, so can we expect The Draughtsman, The Thief, His Wife, etc.? And to top it all off — Max von Sydow presenting one of Ingmar Bergman’s movies a few weeks after his death.¹

    This will be an awesome week-and-a-half. Here is my planned schedule.

    6 SEPT
    630pm Fugitive Pieces (Jeremy Podeswa, Canada)
    900pm The Brave One (Neil Jordan, USA)
    1159pm The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento, Italy)

    7 SEPT
    915am You, the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden)
    noon The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase, Japan)
    400pm One Hundred Nails (Ermanno Olmi, Italy)
    715pm Les Chansons d’Amour (Christophe Honore, France)
    900pm Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, Taiwan)

    8 SEPT
    1000am Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, France/Iran)
    1245pm The Man from London (Bela Tarr, Hungary)
    330pm The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey)
    600pm No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, USA)
    900pm The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, USA)

    9 SEPT
    200pm Bucking Broadway (John Ford, USA, 1917; presented by Peter Bogdanovich)
    345pm In Memory of Myself (Saverio Costanzo, Italy)
    600pm Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway, Britain)
    900pm Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland)

    10 SEPT
    1000am 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (Cristian Mungiu, Romania)
    1215pm Happiness (Hur Jin-ho, South Korea)
    300pm Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, Britain)
    700pm Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, USA)
    915pm My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev, USA)

    11 SEPT
    1100am Children of the Sun (Yaldey Hashemesh, Israel)
    100pm Chaotic Ana (Julio Medem, Spain)
    345pm Operation Filmmaker (Nina Davenport, USA)
    600pm Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach, USA)
    915pm Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, USA)
    1159pm Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, Japan)

    12 SEPT
    930am It’s a Free World… (Ken Loach, Britain)
    noon The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, France)
    230pm Atonement (Joe Wright, Britain)
    600pm A Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol, France)

    13 SEPT
    930am Dr. Plonk (Rolf de Heer, Australia)
    1230pm Reclaim Your Brain (Hans Weingartner, Germany)
    300pm Days of Darkness (Denys Arcand, Canada)
    515pm Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea)
    915pm A Gentle Breeze in the Village (Nobuhiro Yamashita, Japan)

    14 SEPT
    900am Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, France)
    noon M (Lee Myung-se, South Korea)
    300pm The Walker (Paul Schrader, USA)
    545pm Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years (Jacon Thuesen, Denmark)
    800pm The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1960; presented by Max Von Sydow)
    1159pm Dainipponjin (Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan)

    15 SEPT
    945am California Dreamin’ (Endless) (Cristian Nemescu, Romania)
    1245pm Angel (Francois Ozon, France)
    245pm Son of Rambow (Garth Jennings, Britain)
    600pm The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen, China)
    800pm My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada)
    1100pm Just Like Home (Lone Sherfig, Denmark)

    ——————
    ¹ Was there nobody in Italy to do the same for Antonioni? Or is/was any tribute programming done at Venice?

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  • TIFF Grades — Days 1/2
    (”One Hundred Nails” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    TIFF Grades — Days 1/2

    At a Toronto public library with only a half-hour before they log me off (neither a Canadian citizen, nor a Toronto resident, so I really can’t complain at terms of free access). So grades only for now.

    Day 1
    FUGITIVE PIECES, Jeremy Podeswa, Canada — 4
    THE BRAVE ONE, Neil Jordan, USA — 6
    THE MOTHER OF TEARS, Dario Argento, Italy — 3

    Day 2
    YOU, THE LIVING, Roy Andersson, Sweden — 9
    THE MOURNING FOREST, Naomi Kawase, Japan — 5
    ONE HUNDRED NAILS, Ermanno Olmi, Italy — 4
    LES CHANSONS D’AMOUR, Christophe Honore, France — 4
    LUST, CAUTION, Ang Lee, Taiwan — 7

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  • Playing at FilmFest DC
    (”One Hundred Nails” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Playing at FilmFest DC

    FilmFestDC released the program of movies for this year’s festival, which runs from April 24 to May 4. , though as I type this Monday morning, they don’t seem yet to have up the schedule, with dates and times. I’ve already seen five of these films, at Toronto, and here are my reviews of them:

    THE EDGE OF HEAVEN, Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey, 8
    THE FALL, Tarsem, Britain/India, 7
    ONE HUNDRED NAILS, Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 4
    SILENT LIGHT, Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland, 9
    YOU, THE LIVING, Roy Andersson, Sweden, 9

    Despite my already having seen them, I hope, schedule-permitting, to be able to see SILENT LIGHT and YOU, THE LIVING again, simply because I doubt they’ll see commercial releases outside of New York and maybe Los Angeles. And as the grades suggest, I’d recommend four of these five films, with THE EDGE OF HEAVEN probably being the one that the most people would like, with the other three having in their different ways a very high eccentricity quotient.

    As for the films that will be new to me, these are the ones that look interesting enough for me to consider, depending on timing and scheduling, of course:

    LA ANTENA, Esteban Sapir, Argentina — Fritz Lang and Guy Maddin are cross-referenced. I’ve found the few recent Argentine films I’ve seen a bit stylistically bland. This movie may suck, but *that* should not be a problem.

    THE BASIC SANITATION MOVIE, Jorge Furtado, Brazil — As a form of social criticism, black comedy usually works better than earnestness. Again, it may be no good, but a movie about a sewer cannot possibly be earnest.

    BLOOD BROTHERS, Alexi Tan, Hong Kong — Played at Toronto, and the talent on hand is impressive.

    ELITE SQUAD, Jose Padilha, Brazil — Umm … here. The conversation piece of the festival, almost certainly.

    I JUST DIDN’T DO IT, Masayuki Suo, Japan — Japan’s submission to the Oscars for Best Foreign Film, and filmgeekbud Ken Rudolph liked it. And while I wasn’t a fan of Suo’s SHALL WE DANCE 1.0, Ken’s description makes it sound in a completely different vein …

    IN THE NAME OF GOD, Shoaib Mansoor, Pakistan — The very concept of a serious Pakistani movie about cleavages within Islam practically sells itself on topicality and “huh?” value alone.

    KHOYA KHOYA CHAND, Sudhir Mishra, India — A Bollywood version of A STAR IS BORN … are any of the songs as good as “The Man that Got Away”?

    KATYN, Andrej Wajda, Poland, and MONGOL, Sergei Bodrov, Kazakhstan — Two of the films that snagged Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Film. At least one of them has to be better than THE COUNTERFEITERS, right?

    THE NIGHT JAMES BROWN SAVED BOSTON, David leaf, USA — The concert footage at least **has** to be sensational — James Brown was even able to elevate ROCKY 4 for a few minutes fercryinoutloud.

    THE POPE’S TOILET, Cesar Charlone and Enrique Fernandez, Uruguay — I dunno, maybe Latin American movies about human-waste disposal just intrigue me.

    PVC 1, Stathos Statholopoulos, Colombia — Only other one-take feature-length movie, Sokurov’s RUSSIAN ARK, was excellent and this one seems to have more dramatic potential. Might just be a gimmick though. Also want to hear about the director’s best friend, the Greek writer Francisco Gonzalez Sanchez.

    THE SHOW MUST GO ON, Han Jae-rim, South Korea — Sound like the ultimate Korean movie: Song Kang-ho and a script with 1,000 opportunities for those wild tone shifts between Vaudeville and Theater of Cruelty. Who can resist Benny Hill meets Artaud?

    TAKVA: A MAN’S FEAR OF GOD, Ozer Kiziltan, Turkey — I had a ticket for this one at Toronto but this man’s fear of Morpheus militated against the 9am showing. Glad for another chance, I’ll say.

    TELL NO ONE, Guillaume Canet, France — Talent dripping off the fingernails and so could be a great populist entertainment or one of those awful Cinema du Look hybrids (I didn’t even think DIVA held up all that well to a recent re-viewing)

    TIMECRIMES, Nacho Vigalondo, Spain — Not been a great fan of the well-hyped Spanish thrillers I’ve seen (ABRE LOS OJOS and INTACTO), but one of them has to hit paydirt eventually.

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