Tag Archive: Hanna Schygulla

The Unsung Heroes of 2008

Highlighting those overlooked performances from 2008 that deserved greater accolades.

Asia Argento, in 'The Last Mistress'
The Last Mistress

Set in 19th Century France, Catherine Breillat’s film is not about love — it’s about addiction. Because as played by Argento, Spanish seductress Vellini is not a romantic heroine but a creature of obsessive need and hunger. The actress shows ferocious commitment in a performance that ventures into some of the ugliest realms of human desire. She is frequently nude, but it is her emotional nakedness that distinguishes her.

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Dir. Fatih Akin
(NR) ★ ★ ★ ★

The Edge of Heaven is the movie Babel was trying to be. It’s one of those intersecting-stories dramas contingent on coincidences and the hidden connections of its characters. Done well, such a narrative is more than contrivance; it can express an idea of human existence, about how we do not exist in a vacuum and may touch other lives in ways imperceptible to us. Babel’s aim was more specific: It wanted to show us the effects of global culture and tried to shoehorn its stories to fit the theme, but the stories didn’t jibe. Compare that to Heaven, which in two simple, paralleled images says more about the consequences of globalization than all of Babel: the image of a casket being exported from Germany to Turkey, and later another, being exported from Turkey back to Germany — exchanging death across borders.

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