An art historian meets a mysterious French woman at a book reading in Tuscany, touching off a romance and a dark secret in "Certified Copy" showing at the Normal Theater this weekend. (Photo courtesy of The Normal Theater)
By Dawn Riordan
NORMAL - The world is full of film makers churning out some very interesting movies.
You won’t see most of them however, regardless of the internet, NetFlix or i-thingies. That’s because you’ll probably never hear about them.
Like books, there is a plethora of worthy movie-product out there that does not have the mega-marketing dollars needed to tell the world public that their movie has been made, is quite entertaining and should be seen. But, unlike books, there’s really no movie shop where you can browse all movie titles currently in release. So you’re missing something in life, unless you have some sort of outlet – a place to go where they bring in these unheard of movies that could just change your life. Oh wait, you DO have a place to do that – The Normal Theater.
We love to comb the film release trades and find little gems that look great on our screen, make a lasting impression on you, the viewer, and (maybe) expand your mind, your horizons, your movie-watching expertise. Whatever you can get out of seeing foreign films, you can get a bunch of it in September, as we continue our Beyond Normal Films’ Showcase.
This week, we’re bringing in a Norwegian film called “Headhunters”. Films coming in from the Netherlands are quite the rage now. If you recollect – we brought in “Let the Right One In’ a clever little horror film about a child-like vampire. We also brought in the original Swedish version of ‘The Girl In The Dragon Tattoo’, which frightened many an audience member into buying the book so they could read the rest of the story, and see the other two companion films that were made within a few months of each other. Quite a successful trilogy and it was NOT made in Hollywood.
Of course, these two, and countless others, have been remade into Hollywood feature films, with Hollywood sensibilities and lots of CGI special effects. That’s Hollywood for ya – they have to (to misquote Louis B. Meyer of olden MGM times) “do it big, do it right, but (not necessarily) give it class.” The remake of “Let the Right One In” certainly didn’t have the class the original Swedish version had.
But back to “Headhunters.” This film has got to be on the edge of a remake, but you should see the original version first. It’s not for the faint of heart, as it has a lot of brutal crime moments in it (it’s all about the world of Stolen art masterpieces). It has all the flavor of a Coen Brothers film with a splash of Hitchcock for to twist the ending just enough to give it a good final punch. The characters are hard to like, which sometimes ruins a movie for me, but in this case, it enhances the theme of the film. It’s hard to talk about a film with so many twists and turns and not give away the mystery of it all. Suffice to say, “Headhunters” is an engaging thriller that’s not a rollercoaster ride all the way through, but with enough edge-of-the-seats moments to keep you awake through the whole film and reward you with a clever story.
Our second showcase offering this week also deals in the art world. It’s a French film about romance and mystery, or maybe a mysterious romance. Got your attention? Me, too. I was swept away with the description of this film – an antiques dealer (Juliet Binoche) acquaints herself with an art historian (William Shimell) who is hawking his latest book about art masterpiece copies. The point of his book is that these copies of great works of art are an art form as well, and should somehow be appreciated for what they are beyond being a copy of something else. The mystery starts when the two lovebirds seem to have already had the very relationship they are starting. Confused?
Okay, the story is a confusing one, but when you see the movie, it somehow magically explains it and gives us food for thought in the process. Since mysteries are manipulative, this one gets four stars for being able to work its magic on us without the pain of frustration. It’s worth seeing, just for the creativity alone.
Will both of these movies be remade and given the Hollywood touch? Not sure if both will, but they are both being considered, so before that happens, see them as they are originally and so beautifully worked out, this weekend at the Normal Theater.
“Headhunters” shows Friday (9/21) and “Certified Copy” shows this Saturday (9/22) and Sunday (9/23) at 7 p.m. each evening. Accept no substitutes!
Dawn Riordan is manager of the Normal Theater.
Trailer for "Certified Copy":
Trailer for "Headhunters":