5. A Moment to Remember (2004)
This is another jewel from South Korean cinema’s crown. This memorable love story isn’t as popular as the vengeance trilogy or some Korean thrillers, but is a great achievement in a genre where this new wave of South Korean directors doesn’t invest too much.
“A Moment to Remember” tells the love story of Cheol-su and Su-jin and their difficult probation, when Su-jin starts to suffer from a strange type of Alzheimer’s disease. Cheol-su has to re-learn how to live with his soul mate and follow her tiresome illness. In short, this film represents what and how it is to live with someone with these problems.
Directed by John H. Lee, who studied in the US, “A Moment to Remember” has all those qualities of both Asian cinema and South Korean cinema, in particular. Although, some American influences are noted for the watchful ones.
Furthermore, this is a motion picture about everything related to a normal life interrupted by a disease: happiness, grief, love, suffering and death. This film isn’t quite well known in Eastern culture, but was a major success in South Korea, a country in the midst of cultural, social and economical development.
4. Black (2005)
When I think of Indian cinema, an image of tanned people dancing synchronously arises in my mind. Although, if you search correctly, there are some good Indian films free of those clichés.
“Black” is almost like a definition of catharsis or a mind purification in a film’s shape. Michelle, born deaf, mute and blind, was always protected from the real world, which made her somewhat violent and unpredictable. Living in a world of darkness, or ‘black’ if you prefer, Michelle finds some clarity with an unconventional teacher who starts to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
The film is inspired by “The Miracle Worker” and, as you may guess, a pair of events happens in the same way. Technically, the film is surprisingly good. The cinematography is interesting and there are some very good shots during the two hours of the film. Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji give the kind of performances that don’t come up twice, quite like the actors from the Iranian film “A Separation”. We’re toward a unique and beautiful film, and you make no mistake with “Black”.
3. Poetry (2010)
Art isn’t always a synonym of something good or beautiful. Sometimes it’s in repulsive and cruel that we find true concepts and artistic features. “Poetry” is a little bit of this. Mija is a sexagenarian woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Trapped between her age and illness, she holds her mind refuge in poetry.
The remarkable thing is the way Chang-dong Lee transforms a story with poetry inside in a poem-film. For Mija, there’s an imminent run against time to achieve a certain transcendence or immortality through words that would define a strange world. Like David Lynch said in “Blue Velvet”, “it’s a strange world”.
Jeong-hie Yun, who plays Mija, was a major star of Korean cinema in the 60s and 70s and accepted to rejoin the business after a 16-year hiatus. This kind of motion picture depends too much on the main character, and Yun’s performance is so brilliant and convincing that “Poetry” is an instant success.
Her character has several layers through the film and the veteran actress is near perfection in all of them, bringing Eddie Redmayne’s Stephen Hawking role to memory, where he has the same kind of performance. Chang-dong Lee is a very gifted director and the screenplay is exquisite and very literal, working as a poem with structure, sensibility and lots of rhymes.
2. Wrinkles (2011)
Diseases in older people and animation aren’t close friends in cinema, but if we talk just about aging, the conversation changes quite a bit. Ghibli films are a great example of aged people in animation and “Wrinkles” is above everything a film about aging.
The Spanish picture tells the story of Emilio, a retired bank worker, who develops early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Against his will, he moves to a care home. Slowly, Emilio starts connections with other people like him and strikes a losing battle against his memory loss. All the characters are very genuine, like people we’ve met or our grandparents, and that fact creates a link between the viewer and the characters.
Director Ignacio Ferreras puts the viewer in the skin of a lonely and bored senior citizen, which in turn is an interesting sensation, especially to young people. A strong message instantly arises while watching “Wrinkles”: we all will be old someday. Emilio’s struggle to not drown into oblivion is told with drama in short dosages and sometimes lots of humor (the way they look at , for instance).
The animation is sober, which contrasts with the sweetness of the plot and characters, showing that sometimes the best way to deal with serious subjects is by playing with them.
1. A Separation (2011)
This is more than a mere “Alzheimer’s disease film”. “A Separation” is related to lots of large topics, such as family, religion, the role of women, Iranian culture, justice, and more. Alzheimer’s disease is almost a reason or a pretext for the entire plot. Moreover, director Asghar Farhadi said he built the whole story around an image of a son helping a dad take a bath.
Nader and Simin are in the process of divorcing, but they have decisions to make because of their daughter and Nader’s dad, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. “A Separation” is a lesson about family values, dignity and pride that many should understand in modern times.
If the story is quite rich and original, the technical aspects of the film are the best part of it. The use of handheld camera is sublime! I think Kubrick himself would be proud of some shots we get here. There was an obvious concern of making an artistic film by Farhadi and that was positively achieved with sincerity, talent and perseverance. There are plenty of long shots for those who, like me, who love cinema with sequences.
The first scene is genial, giving us a kind of primary description of Nader and Simin and working almost as a first act. The actors are sublime in everything they do. I would pay to see those characters’ lives for two or three more hours. I honestly think some of the actors in “A Separation” should give a tutorial to some Hollywood actors. Honestly. Peyman Moaadi is the best example. This Iranian is an acting beast!
Author Bio: Pedro Bento is a portuguese samurai, who travels with his wakizashi sword into the infinity of his mind, always forgetting his way home. He doesn’t believe in inspirational moments, but he likes to hide in a secret place, where heavy metal is always blasting and no one can bother him, except his apathetic girlfriend Inês. Yes, he’s a loner.