Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Bob's Cinema Diary: Jan. 18, 2024: 'Freud's Last Session' and 'Apolonia Apolonia'

Freud's Last Session 

Based on an off-Broadway play, Freud's Last Session imagines the waning days of Sigmund Freud’s life, building a movie around an invented a conversation between the great psychoanalyst (Anthony Hopkins) and author C. S. Lewis (Matthew Goode) of Narnia fame. Lewis, a believing Christian, and Freud, an atheist, hash out big questions against a backdrop of war. The year: 1939. That should have been enough. But director Matthew Brown opens things up, adding, among other things, scenes depicting Lewis's horrific experiences in World War I. Hopkins's performance emphasizes the pain Freud experiences from cancer of the jaw, his consumption of pain-relieving morphine, and his dismay about having had to leave Vienna because of the rise of Hitler and Nazism. Freud's dependent relationship with his gay daughter (Liv Lisa Fries) also breaks into the solitude of Freud's study, where much of the movie is set. I could go on, but suffice it to say that the interchanges between the two primary characters often lacked urgency. In all, Freud’s Last Session struck me as a missed opportunity for intense conversation sans any distractions. 

Apolonia Apolonia

Director Lea Glob filmed painter Apolonia Sokol for 13 years, charting the painter's life as she gradually gained recognition for her portraiture. As a kid, Sokol lived a bohemian life with her father in a theater in Paris. She eventually attended the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, an institution that can serve as a launching pad for major art careers. Apolonia's graduation didn't immediately vault her into the art world's upper tiers. In the U.S., Apolonia met Stefan Simchowitz, a collector, promoter, and patron who cultivates relationships with young artists. Glob follows her own growth and confusions, as well as Apolonia's in Apolonia Apolonia, a movie that captures the chaotic life of a young artist. Apolonia Apolonia stands as an imperfect documentary about an artist's struggle. But its imperfections and narrative leaps sometimes seem well-matched to a life in which both director and her subject are trying to find their footing.

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