Over the years I've come to use 3 synonyms – movie, film and cinema as distinct definitions for the range of motion pictures I've watched. Most of them have been “movies”, entertaining diversions that are sometimes great, but mostly not. Every now and then you get to see a “film”, a picture that transcends the typical and becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Rarer still, are those motion pictures that qualify as “cinema”. Cinema is a rare treat, an experience that speaks directly to us. It's immersive, thought-provoking and offers a profound glimpse into who and what we are. Welles, Melville, Kurosawa, Ophuls and a handful of others ever made more than one. Most never get close.
French director Olivier Assayas wrote and directed Summer Hours, the latest example of a piece of pure “cinema” that I've seen. This small and eloquent picture is a mesmerizing meditation of globalism, tradition, family, and material and emotional values all told in a simple story about the passing of a family matriarch. Her three adult - and quite different - children are faced with the task of how to deal with her valuable possessions, art and heirlooms. It's simple, unsentimental and adult, the kind of picture that only the French seem capable of these days. I'm not sure how accessible Summer Hours might be to younger viewers, the topics and themes revolve around aging, death and our personal histories, something not often considered when you're 25. This is a work with so much verve and integrity however, that I don't think it matters.
Just about perfect.