The Weather

The weather made her feel as if there was no point to life: whether you worked hard didn’t matter, whether you found someone to love didn’t matter, because even if you worked hard and found someone to love, a day like this would come, when a strange damp coolness seeped in through the windowpanes and seeped in through you, make you see that everything was meaningless. Brian Morton The Dylanist

June has arrived. Yet the cold and rainy weather continues around here. I cannot understand why it is so hard to remember the warm days of summer during these chilly, winter-like days.

I wonder if we could simply warm ourselves up by recalling those blistering days of August? We become sad by recalling times of distress. Why not warm by recalling those days by the pool in Tuscany?

To try I watch a film, Heaven, that takes place Italy. Italian is spoken in many of the scenes. Grim events occur in Milan and then the final third in Tuscany, in and around the hill town of Montepulciano.

It is the Tuscan countryside that always draws me back to the film--the dry rolling hills, the lone oaks on the hilltops, the long dirt roads to an old villa. It is warm, the light is clear, the colors vivid--yellow and orange--the mood is subdued and peaceful.

I recall a walk I took one morning when I was staying at a small medieval borgo in the heart of Tuscany. The sun was rising on yet another clear and warm day. There is nothing quite like the early morning light of a Tuscan morning. The path I took bisected two large fields of ripening grapes that led away from the borgo toward the main highway.

Small groves of olive trees were growing out in the fields and off in the distance I could see the bell tower of the village of Castelnuovo Bernardgna. It seemed too good to be true. Once again I felt so at one with the world. Not a person could be seen or heard.

My thermostat rises just a bit, even though the winds are blowing outside and the rain is pounding against the windows. I wonder if I will have to spend the rest of my life seeing films about Italy to get through the long winter around here. Probably.

I learn the DVD of Certified Copy arrived in the stores last week. I saw it in the theater and immediately plan to see it again since it also takes place during those warm summer days in Tuscany. It is also a brilliant film. Permit me an edited reposting.

In the New Yorker’s review, David Denby wrote that, “the movie celebrates marriage, which, after all, can be sustained only if it becomes a kind of narrative that a man and a woman create, develop, and vary as they go along.”

The film asks us to consider the difference between an original work of art and a copy? Can one put the same value on them? If not, why not? Does the distinction even matter? These questions become the central metaphor of the film.

It was written and directed by the Iranian Abbas Kiarostami. A woman, Juliette Binoche attends a lecture by an art historian, William Shimell. At the end of his presentation she goes to the podium to ask him a question, they converse for a while, and then she invites him to visit a nearby village in Tuscany with her.

Who could ask for more—an interesting question, two handsome actors, wandering through a Tuscan village? As they drive through the countryside, they continue to talk. The talk seems strange. It isn’t the sort of conversation you have with a stranger. You wonder if they might actually know one another after all, as she begins to flirt with him and then argue a bit. The owner of the cafĂ© assumes they are married.

What is going on? What does Kiarostami mean by all this lofty discussion and incongruous talk? You begin to interpret their conversation differently. You return to the original question. Are they re-enacting their marriage, creating a copy of the real thing? Is there a difference between the two?

You think perhaps they are married after all; perhaps they no longer live together. What fun to catch on, or to think you catch on. You have that “I get it” feeling. Is it obvious to everyone? It wasn’t to every moviegoer I spoke to about the film.

I thought this was cinema at its best. It is also fiction at its best—an amusing story against a background of provocative questions, peopled by brainy individuals, wandering about the villages and countryside of Tuscany. Again, my thermostat rises just a bit.