This is the first time back in India for Merchant/Ivory (and frequent writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala—this her screenplay from her novel) after a decade. Their first five films were all shot in India going back to the 1960’s.
There are really two narratives- parallel stories of Julie Christie’s (born in India) character (in contemporary 1980’s) retracing the steps of her grand-aunt (played by Greta Scacchi) in the same location in India in the 1920’s.
It is a good post-40 role for Christie (her only archiveable film of the 1980’s)—apparently she turned down the Charlotte Rampling role in The Verdict for this (how many times have those two been offered the same role over the years?)
The voice-over situation is messy—poor form. I get why Ivory wants to include Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s writing (very literate as always)—but we have Christie’s voice-over and then in one situation Scacchi just reads an old letter to us, and then still later we go into Christie’s character’s head with an inner monologue—weak.
Greta Scacchi is best known from The Player nearly a decade later in 1992 – the love interest of Tim Robbin’s character – she’s good here, beautiful
Again, the narrative does a good job with the matching stories of the two women- both in a bit of an existential crisis while traveling in India, falling for Indian men, literally retracing the steps of her relative sixty years before, pregnancy
Colonialism, racism- a thoughtful examination
I get a kick out of Merchant/Ivory almost always including nudity in their films (they’re not all stuffy period “dress” genre)—and this is no exception
A warm formal sensation washing over you the viewer as the film ends with the pregnant Julie Christie character making a discovery through the genealogy exploration
Recommend- but not in the top 10 of 1983– never touches the best work of James Ivory – it is interesting- he’s 55 at the time of Heat and Dust and his best work is certainly all ahead of him in the next decade
Best 2020 film until now ? Do you think there will be enough material for a year end list ? Thankfully, I watched 20 films in a festival and aside from those, only Tenet and I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Also, have you seen McQueen’s Small Axe?
The best movie of the year is Mank, with all due respect to I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
The mini montage of the elections is the best scene of the year.
You’ve seen Mank? I’m still waiting for it to come out on Netflix tomorrow. How great is it?
@Zane. Yeah i caught it at the theater, i was lucky.
Well the wait ends tomorrow so i don’t wanna to spoil it, you will have to find out tomorrow but it’s pretty good
Where are you at? Unless you’re uncomfortable with mentioning that kind of information. I’m in rural Florida so there aren’t too many theaters playing limited release movies around where I live.
@Zane. I do not know if you have read before, but on the site i said that i am not American so that explains it, i saw it at the national art house.
@Cinephile. I remember seeing that, but there are several shorts, right? correct me if I’m wrong
Continuing with Mank, i am not going to say that is at the level of Kane (another movie that also in the theater recently) but Fincher got what he wanted, the lighting refers to Kane, it really looks like a movie from the 40s, dialogue just as intrepid as the social network and the best performance of the year
@Aldo– Very excited for Mank! I’m going to see it soon. Based on what I’ve watched, my pick for the best would probably be Tenet or Days. And yes, Small Axe is 5 films forming some type of “series”.
@Cinephile. What is the name of the director of Days? I will add it to my list
@Aldo– Tsai Ming-liang. You should really see it, formally groundbreaking film.
@Cinephile– Yeah I’m not sure when I’m going to update my 2020 page– I have seven films from 2020 in the archives right now- normally this time of year I have 30. I”m Thinking of Ending Things from Charlie Kaufman is pretty easily the best thing I’ve seen. Tenet comes out on bluray on Dec 15 here so I’ll be getting to it soon hopefully– and I’m so pumped for Small Axe– I’m waiting until we’re a little closer them all being available (December 18th I believe) before I start
Have you seen Godfather Part III Coda yet, I’m just wondering
If it’s worth watching, I remember being disappointed with his final cut of Apocalypse Now.
@James Robbins- I have not yet- I look forward to it