Marina Abramović Made Me Cry (and I’m not the only one)

by meghanhorvath

It’s been a long time.

And I’m not just referring to the time that has elapsed since I last posted on this blog. It’s been a long time since a film has made me cry. And what was so great about spontaneously sobbing in the middle of Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present is that it took me totally by surprise. So often I feel like when a film is tugging at my heart strings with tragic circumstances and big swells of music, my heart just won’t budge. So I was extremely happy to find out that I can still be completely reduced, emotionally. By a film.

I won’t spoil anything about what I found so intense about The Artist Is Present except to say that it was the most moving Acts of Forgiveness I remember seeing on screen. At least that is how I interpreted what it was that affected me so deeply. For those of you wanting to follow up the reference in my title as to who else Marina Abramović made cry, you can look here .

This week I undertook a research project about the on-screen portrayals of women artists which means that I have watched a few films on my list more than once. But I won’t count those as having been viewed twice. I’m not desperate yet. Besides tomorrow I am off to Sheffield for the annual DocFest and late June brings a rendezvous with Virgin’s in-flight entertainment centre on my way to D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, Miami, and back again.

Without further ado here is my last batch of (more than) 10 films:

46.) Cavalry, directed by John Michael McDonagh – Amazing landscapes and acting, but the emotional impact of the film was lost on me. I wondered if I was just tired and distracted when I went into the cinema but my friend who was with me agreed. Was it because we weren’t Irish? Did we not get all of the Christian symbolism? My only theory is that the film sat so completely between a comedy and a drama that when the final blow came (and in my opinion it was far too graphic), I was not in the right mood to feel it. I’d give this film another shot though, when I’ve made a little more progress on the long list of films awaiting me!

47.) Before Midnight, directed by Richard Linklater – This was a film I had to see (on the basis of loving Before Sunrise and Before Sunset) even though I did not have high expectations for it. And unfortunately the film did not surprise me. It was as bland as I had expected with an ending that prompted my friend and I to simultaneously look at one another and ask What?! Yes, the previous two films primarily featured the same two lovers walking through cities but they were far more engaging. I was only left to ask: Does marriage in middle age have to be so dull?

48.) Synecdoche, directed by Charlie Kaufman – Another fantastic Charlie Kaufman world peppered with a good dose of surrealism and some of my favourite actors – Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Catherine Keener, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

49.) Connected: An Autobiography about Love, Death and Technology, directed by Tiffany Shlain – I had neither heard of this film nor the director before it caught my eye on Netflix. But as it turns out Shlain is the woman who invented the Webby Awards. The film uses her father Leonard Shlain (author of some interesting books now on my reading list) who is dying of brain cancer as its narrative anchor. And it works. A lovely essay film that blends science, psychology and personal experience, the film examines the blessing and the curse of today’s interconnectedness. An interesting and easy film watch especially if you are interested in a creative use of graphics.

50.) Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, directed by Jeffrey Dupre and Matthew Akers – see above.

51.) Gattaca, directed by Andrew Niccol, 1997 – Great cast in this old sci-fi film but with too much music. Solid story yet it felt like one element was missing to allow me to completely buy into the world it created. Still highly recommended and stars a young Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

52, 53, 54.) Andrew Marr’s History of the World (first three episodes) – Bland and sweeping BBC series which is good for discovering nuggets that you can investigate further. Reminds me of a college survey history book which definitely has its uses!

55.) Camille Claudel, directed by Bruno Nuytten, 1988 –  Worth every minute of its 2.5 hours and not just for the performance from a young Isabella Adjani. Intense telling of the sculptor’s tragic story. Am now keen to hunt down the more recent film adaptation of her life starring Juliette Binoche.

56.) Séraphine, directed by Martin Provost, (2009) – Gorgeously shot film about Séraphine Louis, a painter in the “naive style” in France who started to achieve recognition just before the First War.

57.) Artemisia, directed by Agnès Merlet – a controversial but beautiful retelling of the first woman painter of note in Europe.

Now off to pack my Sheffield Survival Kit. Stay tuned from news of the films there . . .