My Favorite Conversation Films:
I enjoy a good conversation--a conversation about important spiritual and existential issues. I enjoy watching a good interview--one which is intellectual and philosophical. Every so often someone will make a film that is either one long conversation, or a series of long conversations. These are my favorites (and happen to be the only ones I have ever seen). You should watch at least one of them.
Before Sunset. I have not seen the prequel to this movie, Before Sunrise. In Sunrise, two people, played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, experience an evening long romance. In Sunset, they meet 9 years later and "rekindle" their affair. I normally hate "romance" movies. They are usually trite, sentimental, and idealized. I most certainly hate Nick Hornby movies, in which some young man, who is in some way connected to the music industry, cannot commit to a relationship because he is too immature and too insecure. Before Sunset is not like any of those. It involves two realistic individuals with realistic issues. Throughout the 80 minutes these two people spend together, they talk intelligently about many different issues, from politics to intimacy to memory. It is soon obvious that they are in love, and feel remiss that their relationship did not continue. The actors effectively give life to these rather ordinary individuals. It is a very interesting conversation, and a good film.
Waking Life. This film is directed by Richard Linklater, who also directed the two aforementioned films (He directs a vast style of films, from these ones, to A Scanner Darkly, which is a strange Sci-Fi movie, to the remake of Bad News Bears). WL is a very odd film. It uses an unusual animation style known as rotoscoping. The film is primarily about "lucid dreaming." The whole film is a dream in which the protagonist floats around in listens in on various conversations. These conversations are all highly philosophical and range in topic from existentialism to rebellion to film theory. They are all very interesting, even if you don't understand all of them. The two characters from Before Sunrise actually show up, discussiing what happens when we die. This is not a typical film, but it is fascinating. It can provide some interesting topics for your own conversations. The following is clip of a professor discussing existentialism:
My Dinner With Andre. In this film, playwright Andre Gregory and actor Wallace Shawn (most famous for Vincinni in The Princess Bride), sit down for dinner and have a long conversation. Some of the discussion is very strange. Andre talks about some "New Age" experiences he has had, including participating in a faux burial. They are very weird, and, much like Wallace, we are bit taken back by them. The conversation eventually turns to more more existential. Like Waking Life, much of the conversation is esoteric, and very humanistic. The interaction of the two men, though, is very interesting. Wallace doesn't agree with most of what Andre says at first, but eventually comes to some sort of an understanding. Not a picture for many people, but some will enjoy it. Here is a clip in which the men are talking about human interaction:
Scenes from a Marriage. This was originally a five-part miniseries made for Swedish television by master filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. He edited it down to a 167 minute theatrical version. I have not seen the "full" version, only the theatrical version. Even so, this is an honest, observant film. It chronicles several "scenes" that show a marriage slowly disintegrating. Bergman is a brilliant student of human behavior. He is fills the dialog with all the nuances and subtleties that conversations usually possess. Most of the time, what the characters say is far less than what they mean. At times, they are very cruel to one another; at other times they are very compassionate. Bergman's philosophy is, "Marriage is dead. Long live love." You can see that incarnate in this film. The actor's are incredible at portraying raw emotion (If you watch the film simply for the acting, you will be rewarded). You cringe at times at the bluntness and severity of each character. This is a film that can help most couples understand how, often times, we do treat each other, though not necessarily how we should treat each other. I don't know that I enjoyed this film, but I do think I benefited from it.