This was filmed way back in October 2008. Some of the actors in thisfilm have STILL not been paid for their work. The added insult toinjury is that they have not been credited either!
Conveniently anybody associated with the production seems to havedisappeared. Everyone is aware that in the current financial climate,the arts are being hit the hardest. (R.I.P. UK Film Council). Financinga film is extremely difficult. But nobody is feeling this more than theactors/performers right now.
It's been two years now and still no sign of payment. Disgraceful.Absolutely disgraceful.
It is very strange to my mind that such a celebrated director as RaoulRuiz is making straight-to-video movies in the UK! However theEnglish-language world has a goldfish memory for foreign giants and soperhaps I shouldn't be so surprised. Maybe he needs to get Spike Jonzeor Quentin Tarantino to "sponsor" him ^^. Nucingen House didn't evenget a DVD release, so we shouldn't look a gift horse in the eye withthis one.
So we have an art critic living in a country pile who has gone blindfollowing some nasty maiming. He wishes to publish a final book andthus sets about hiring an "amanuensis" to assist him with this. TomConti plays the role of blind critic Paul pretty well, he has just theright mix of pomposity and fragility. The film is quite surreal, butnowhere more so perhaps than when we see a selection of self-absorbedcharacters interviewed for the position of amanuensis. In this countrywe never really hailed the arrival of the Surrealist movement, which isperhaps strange as we are about as surreal as it gets. So surreal thatwe understandably have problems rising out of the fog and makingwell-realised films about ourselves, although Patrick Keiller's Londonand Peter Greenaway's The Falls are notable successes. Yes the UK is anightmare of prejudice, public conformity, self-repression,snobbishness, and reverse snobbishness; all the more bizarre as it'stotally unenforced. British lives collectively are a myriad ofuncorrelated banalities. We live in post-colonial anomie. Anotherexample in the film is the political canvasser who is timid andpetrified at the idea of engaging with someone on a non-superficiallevel, even if that were to be a well-to-do blind man, and even if thatwere, ostensibly, her mission. Our politics are quite funny, althoughwe have again an ostensibly socialist party in government, it's justcome to light that, in effect, Tesco are able to pay to get proposedlegislation torpedoed!
The amanuensis (Jane) is eventually selected and is played by DarrylHannah. She's fairly clearly hostile to him from the start, but isgentle enough in resting demeanour that it's clear we're seeing avendetta from an aggrieved party, rather than the acts of a psychotic.There's a lovely example of female passive aggressive behaviour here,which, as someone who is as pompous as they come, though with a strongtwist of self-deprecation that most don't ever seem to get, I haveexperienced myself. Jane sits listening to the usual enthusiastic andself-indulgent discourse, carefully choosing her moment to burst hisbubble, when Paul mentions that it was always a bad thing to do forwriters to drink, she coldly brings up Bukowski and Hemingway.
There is camera-work here, though the movie is obviously a quickie. Thebest example would be when the camera floats dreamily as we are told ofPrincess Diana's appearance in Bhutan. The opening shot of the spiresof the pile are suitably surreal, however the atmosphere of the verycomfortable gentrified interior is in contrast to that making theopener look slightly contrived. Being a quickie we also have a genericsoundtrack over the top, which must have taken all of half an hour toselect and edit in during post-production. I doubt anything was shottwice in the movie either, hence the zoom shots when Paul takes hisglasses off, which are a bit silly.
For people who care about such things, the twist at the end regardingthe critic himself, was pretty obvious in the first act if you are usedto looking at paintings with anything other than a blank stare, or haveknowledge about the meaning behind the travel itineraries of Britishmen.
Though this is a quick production, done with a minimum of fuss andcost, there's enough artistic value to make this worth a watch. Youeven get to hear a good recital of the poem Jenny by James Henry LeighHunt.
In the vein of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane or Misery, the movie AClosed Book deals with a woman who is mentally torturing a blind man.Daryl Hannah is virtually unrecognizable as the (for whatever reason)unemotional person who has ulterior motives who is hired by a blindauthor to help him write his autobiography. Hannah looks like a crossbetween Catherine O'Hare and Loretta Swit, if they were both on Lexaproon bad hair days. Too bad she didn't revamp her role in Kill Bill: thatwould have been scary. Tom Conti has a few good moments as the blindauthor, but his character is ultimately a confused mess, at one pointhighly acute to sounds and smells (even though he's only been blind fora few years), and at the next point completely helpless and stumblingover his own feet. But the most distracting flaw in Conti's characteris that he has eyes that don't even exist, with skin that has grownover the sockets like something out of a Twilight Zone episode. Now howcan we believe that? Why not just give him empty holes or ghost whiteeyeballs or something else that is believable? I was looking forward toseeing what Ellen Page had to offer to this film but to mydisappointment the actress turned out to be someone named Elaine Paige.Guess I should read the credits more closely. We never find out whathappened to the housekeeper and the ending comes out of left field asintensely as a wiffle-ball. There was some real potential here to dosome really creepy things and if they had played upon the theme ofclaustrophobia and the fear of the dark, they might have delivered sometense moments, but unfortunately it turned out to be an average nightof off-Broadway theatre.User: derektrotteresq
I have just finished watching the film and as I have never read thebook, I viewed it with no expectations. If you're after action a fastpaced movie then this probably isn't for you as the drama unfolds at aslow to medium pace. Tom Conti and Daryl Hannah do a pretty good job inthe role and are the glue that hold the film together. I won't go intowhat the film is about as that would render it pointless to watch but Iwill add that this is the not the kind of movie that you can watch overand over again but will find satisfying for the one viewing if you likesuspense mysteries.
In conclusion, it's not the best film i've seen, but I did enjoy it soI gave it a 7.
As A Closed Book begins, distinguished author Sir Paul is planning onwriting his first book since a head injury that made him completelyblind four years previously. In order to do this he needs a helper sohe hires Jane Ryder, an intelligent but mysterious woman who agrees tolive with him in his baroque mansion five days a week. Sir Paul isunsurprisingly a fussy, arrogant man who would likely be hard foranyone to deal with. Still, it's hard not to feel sympathy for him asit quickly becomes clear that Jane takes sadistic pleasure in deceivinghim. This starts out harmlessly enough with lies about a jigsaw puzzleand made up news stories about the murder of Madonna and the suicide ofO.J. Simpson but progresses into harmful territory as she begins torearrange the furniture and leave books on the stairs. The last fewminutes of the film involve some hastily applied twists that don'treally give the viewer much of a chance to comprehend the way thesituation has changed before the next one appears. As suspensethrillers go, this is pretty standard fare in the plot department.
Since this is a film by maverick auteur Raoul Ruiz the writing isnaturally the least important part of the film; as usual his films relyon his unique sensibilities to succeed. For a Ruiz film A Closed Bookis fairly low key: there are plenty of unusual angles and the frametends to be filled with sumptuous details but the camera movements arestandard save for the scene in which Jane brazenly tells Sir Paulnonsensical lies as the camera spins wildly directly overhead. There isalso an emphasis on the house's architecture, particularly the baroqueexterior with its spirals and turrets. A Closed Book is not a film thatbreaks new ground for Ruiz, in fact the style calls to mind all of theRuiz films I've seen from the past decade or so including TimeRegained, Comedy of Innocence, and That Day but his style is so richthat he could easily spend another twenty years working within it andnot exhaust its possibilities.
Somewhat perversely for a film released this year, A Closed Book hasalready been released on R2 DVD. It's also worth noting that the filmseems to have been universally judged by the least important aspect ofthis particular work: the script. This surely accounts for its absurdlylow IMDb score (4.7 as of this writing) and the score of negativereviews it has received from critics who view it as a genre film.
Saw this in a preview today. If you like Sleuth, then this is a poorman's relation. Very theatrical, and in fact best suited to the stagethan the big screen, this film documents the mind games played outbetween a reclusive blind author and his new live in assistant. DarylHannah can't act for toffee in the latter role but does please the boysby getting her kit off, although how it advances the plot defeatsme....Tom Conti plays the eccentric art critic author to a tee, andholds the whole thing together...just! Elaine Paige plays a verystrange cameo role (the casting in this film is a little odd to say theleast). Lots of Gothic overtones and a creaking old mansion in thecountry fit the stereotyped mould of the film but at least if doesn'toverstay its welcome at 90 mins. Suspend disbelief and ignore the plotholes, and the film is weirdly enjoyable....