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Talking up Talk Cinema

Posted at 2:24 PM on December 17, 2007 by Euan Kerr

I took in a screening at Talk Cinema over the weekend. This is the series organized across the country by New York-based critic Harlan Jacobson. The idea is to, about once a month, show movies several weeks and sometimes months before they go on general release. Generally the films have only been seen by people within the industry to that point. The additional twist is the audience doesn't know what will be shown until they turn up for the Saturday morning show

On Saturday Talk Cinema screened "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," the adaptation of Jean-Dominique Bauby's extraordinary book about living with shut-in syndrome.

In his late 40's Bauby was the editor of the French edition of "Elle" magazine and at the height of his creative powers. Then one day he was paralyzed almost completely by a stroke. He could only control his left eyelid. His therapist taught him a way of communicating where she would recite a re-ordered alphabet which presented the most commonly used letters first, and he would blink when she reached the letter he wanted. It was an extraordinarily painstaking process, but Bauby dictated an entire book about his experiences. It became a bestseller around the world.

Now Julian Schnabel's movie is attracting great excitement too. It's been nominated for three Golden Globes (best foreign language film, best director and best screenplay.) It also took the best director prize at Cannes.

It's a thought-provoking piece, and perfect for the second part of the Talk Cinema program: talking. What a delight to sit in a room with a group of cine-heads and just chew over what you have just seen. The conversation expertly moderated by the Strib's Colin Covert ranged from whether certain scenes work and the specific meaning of some images, to the broader issues of what one person called 3D movies - that is stories involving disease disability and death.

It was a lot of fun. It was also fun to hear the responses gathered from similar screenings around the country to the November screening which was "The Kite Runner."

Talk Cinema isn't cheap. The 10 screening series is $140, (pro-rated if you sign up mid-series.) If you walk up for a screening it's $18. But for if you are into film in a big way, it gives you an ongoing film festival without having to stray far from home.

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