October 24, 2006


Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ****½

How odd to discover Tickets the same day that Terence Rafferty's interesting piece on "auteur-itis" appeared in The New York Times (as referenced on Greencine Daily). Rafferty tells us of the war between the director (Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu) and the screenwriter (Guillermo Arriaga) of Babel and 21 Grams over the question of who's really the auteur. Perhaps this tiresome twosome can muster the intelligence and humility to watch Tickets, an auteur-less inspiration that makes use of three different directors (Ermanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostami and Ken Loach), three different writers (Olmi, Kiarostami and Paul Laverty) and three different cinematographers (Olmi, Mahmoud Kalari and Chris Menges) to create a surprisingly seamless film that parcels out four stories amongst these nine world-class moviemakers (including the writers and cinematographers here).

When I heard that Tickets featured the work of these three directors, I assumed (rather naturally, I think) that the result would entail entirely separate episodes, a la 3 Extremes,, Boccaccio '70, Eros or any number of the omnibus of short-films-under-one-cover that have popped up regularly over the decades. But no, this is something else entirely: a single movie that features characters united by the train trip they are experiencing, as well as by the themes that interest these great, humanist filmmakers. While each director primarily tackles his own story, each works with and serves the others in terms of the connecting tissue.

Olmi is most involved with the reverie of an old professor who leaves a work conference for home and must suddenly take a train rather than a plane. It features Carlo delle Piane and Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi (5x2), who possess two of the great film faces of modern times, which Olmi captures - and all the others, too - so beautifully. And he is so good with all the tiny visual details! This is sad, enchanting and wondrous, and leads us into Kiarostami's story of a narcissistic older woman and the young man who attends her. Who these two are and how they relate is full of surprises, and terrifically told with humor and warmth. Loach focuses on three young men from Scotland who've come to Italy to see a sports match. Brutish, loud and crass, they initially alienate us. But no one in this humane view is all bad or good, and we observe another side to the three boys as they bump up against a poor family who has appeared fleetingly throughout the movie but now, in the finale, unites its many themes from globalization and cooperation to memory and responsibility.

Do view the DVD's documentary about the making of Tickets - but not, I think, until after you've finished the film. To listen and watch these artists as they work together is a filmmaking education - rich and fascinating. I'm wracking my brain but coming up empty trying to recall another movie made in this particular manner. Yes, we give lip-service to the idea of the arts as a collaborative venture, but this film shows that, in the hands of a group of caring artists, the medium perhaps offers more than a single vision can encompass. It is unbelievable to me that Tickets has not received (and probably wont) a theatrical release in the U.S. A "thank you" is in order to FACETS for providing this DVD release as Tickets is a must-see for anyone who purports to care about movies, their history, and what they can achieve.

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Posted by cphillips at October 24, 2006 11:25 AM
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