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Capone's Art-House Round-Up with LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED and SOMETHING IN THE AIR!!!

Hey, folks. Capone in Chicago here, with a few films that are making their way into art houses or coming out in limited release around America this week (maybe even taking up one whole screen at a multiplex near you). Do your part to support these films, or at least the good ones…

So apparently Pierce Brosnan and his ridiculously wonderful full head of hair are intent on being the spokespeople for love affairs in exotic lands. After dazzling us with his singing voice in Mamma Mia!, Brosnan takes on a more serious role as Philip, a British businessman living in Denmark with a vacation home in Sorrento, Italy, which he has loaned to his son Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) and his fiancee Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) to get married in. While LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED might sounds like another silly romantic comedy set is a beautiful locale, the truth is it tackles the subject of love and lost love with a much more serious tone.

This is not surprising, considering Danish director Susanne Bier (who won an Oscar a few years back for IN A BETTER WORLD) tends to place us in the darker recesses of what should be the lighter moments in life. Of course, she also loves to dive headfirst into the human condition at our worst moments as well, to see if there's a way out. In this film, everyone's love has been tainted by something. Philip lost his wife when Patrick was still young and he hasn't recovered since, making him a distant father and incapable of finding love again in his life. While Astrid's mother, Ida (the great Danish actress Trine Dyrholm) walks in on her boorish husband sleeping with a younger woman just before she leaves for the wedding (naturally, the husband brings the girlfriend to the wedding as well).

Even the young couple at the center of the events are having issues, especially when they meet the handsome young man who works as a servant at the house. And make no mistake, the bad feelings these people are experiencing are not of the cutesy variety like they are in something like THE BIG WEDDING. It's highly likely that some of the characters will emerge from this story worse off than when they began. But in Ida's pain, Philip sees something familiar and the two become kindred spirits, even if they can't quite find the strength to be more than that.

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED is front loaded with great performances, with a dash of perverse humor and sharp wit that stabs at your heart every chance it gets. This isn't the best director and co-writer Bier is capable of (for that, look at something like BROTHERS, AFTER THE WEDDING, or OPEN HEARTS), but it's still pretty strong stuff about two families of damaged people, trying to find love under the worst of circumstances—a wedding.

If you've been reading my reviews long enough, you know that I'm not a fan of dirty hippies. Let me rephrase that: I'm not a fan of dirty hippies in movies because filmmakers almost inevitably get the characterizations wrong, whether the dirty hippies are ones from the late 1960s or early 1970s, or if they're dirty hippies in more modern times, aping the politics, lingo and looks of dirty hippies from the past. But with the great French director Olivier Assayas' (SUMMER HOURS, CARLOS, IRMA VEP, DEMON LOVER) new film, SOMETHING IN THE AIR, we have a type of dirty hippy represented more accurately than I've seen in quite some time, complete with all of their dirty hippy contradictions.

The film begins in Paris 1971, still in the lingering shadow of May 1968, when radical students tried to kick-start the revolution using film as a means of spreading their messages to the masses. Clearly working in autobiographical mode, Assayas uses filmmaker/artist Gilles (Clément Métayer) as his alter ego, a young student trying to find ways of using film to inspire action among his fellow students. But while he's trying to figure that out, he mostly vandalizes school property with his friends (including Lola Créton as Christine). And even when the group of friends is making the decision to get even more violent in their protests, Gilles is also running off to meet his exotic long-distance girlfriend Laure (Carole Combes), proving once again that even the most committed man can be undone by sex.

But when Laure says they should stop seeing each other, rather than brood (although Gilles loves a good brooding session), he starts up a relationship with Christine. And before long, some of the group are traveling through Europe looking for ways to fine tune their revolutionary skills in the vaguest way possible, just like dirty hippies do. In truth, their travels and discoveries are fascinating, enhanced by the attention to period details. There is a great deal of discussion about method and whether using conventional or unconventional films is the way to inspire other like-minded individuals to action. Should a director use more radical means of putting a film together to produce a radical film?

Relationships crumble and are formed, the backgrounds of some of these kids is reveals (not surprisingly, some come from well-off families still sending them money), and long discussions of movies and music lead to work putting together a psychedelic background visuals for a local band. Assayas is both looking back at this period in his life with a certain admiration for the innocence of these characters, while also revealing the sad truth about dirty hippies, which is that many of them exit their passionate youth to become adults and live truly boring lives.

This is hardly a news flash, but SOMETHING IN THE AIR is told in a beautifully realized manner that takes a little of the stings out of this harsh conclusion. You can accept the film as a message movie, or simply enjoy watching this moment in history being lived to the fullest; either way it works beautifully.

-- Steve Prokopy
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