One of Portland's movie gems, The Living Room Theaters, is the place to go this first week of 2013 if one is looking for foreign films. This theater offers a unique experience of in-theater dining, with a wide array of choices of food and drinks. Two films are playing there this week, "The Big Picture," directed by Eric Lartigau, and "The Eye of the Storm," directed by Fred Schepisi.
"The Big Picture" (France, 2010) focuses on the life of Paul Exben (Romain Duris), a successful lawyer who dreams of being a photographer. His life and family seem storybook, but when he learns of his wife's unfaithfulness, his reaction forever changes the lives of many. Paul journeys around France and Eastern Europe trying to take account of his actions and his life.
The trailer pretty much gives away much of the storyline so to those who want to watch the film with few preconceptions, don't watch it. The film is beautifully shot, and locations include Paris and Brittany in France and Kotor in Montenegro. "The Big Picture" was nominated in 2011 for two César Awards in France and has screened at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, the 2011 ColCoa Festival in Los Angeles (City of Lights, City of Angels), and the 2012 Provincetown International Film Festival.
Also screening at The Living Room Theaters this week is "The Eye of the Storm" (Australia, 2011). This is a film about actual and symbolic storms surrounding a wealthy family as dying matriarch Elizabeth Hunger (Charlotte Rampling) manipulates her adult children Basil (Geoffrey Rush) and Dorothy (Judy Davis). They have returned home with reluctance because their inheritances are on the line. Each is disappointed in the other, but there are much more complex levels of feelings as well. There are moments of comedy and tragedy, insight and bullheadedness, love and hate.
This film is based on the 1973 novel by Nobel Prize winner Patrick White and has been highly praised by many film critics, including Nick Schager of the Village Voice and Stephanie Zacharek of NPR. Awards include the Australian Film Institute awards in 2012 for Best Actress (Judy Davis), Costume (Terry Ryan), and Production Design (Melinda Doring) and the Film Critics Circle of Australia of 2012 for Best Screenplay (Judy Morris) and Best Supporting Actress (Alexandra Schepisi). To glance at the subtle performances, check out the trailer.
Tickets for these films range from $5 to $9 and can be purchased online or at the theater box office. Patrons can sit at the bar or nearby tables and enjoy snacks, salads, paninis, coffee and its variations, various wines and many other choices. One can also take food into the theaters, where there are tables available to enjoy a meal or snack while watching the films. The Living Room Theaters project films digitally. It is a super location for catching foreign, indie, and local films, surrounded by one of Portland's wonderful neighborhoods with unique stores, great coffee shops, Powell's Bookstore, and striking architecture and sculptures.