Combustible Celluloid
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With: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Blerta Cahani, Martin Compston, Sanije Dedja, Carlo Delle Piane, Silvana De Santis, Gary Maitland, William Ruane, Filippo Trojano
Written by: Ermanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostami, Paul Laverty
Directed by: Ermanno Olmi, Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: English, Albanian, Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 115
Date: 02/14/2005

Tickets (2005)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Citizen Train

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Compilation films rarely work out as a cohesive whole; the best we can hope for is that one of the segments will stand on its own, as is the case with Wong Kar-wai's The Hand (from Eros) and Martin Scorsese's Life Lessons (from New York Stories). But the new film Tickets holds up well from beginning to end, mainly because the three directors attempted to work together in a seamless fashion, blending one sequence into the next. The entire film takes place on board a train; Italian director Ermanno Olmi (The Tree of Wooden Clogs) begins with a heartbreaking tale of a grandfatherly Italian professor (Carlo Delle Piane) mooning over the beautiful assistant (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) who took care of his needs during a business trip. Sitting in the first class dining car, he eventually turns his sights toward more immediate matters. Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry, The Wind Will Carry Us) takes the reins for another story about an ex-soldier (Filippo Trojano) who now fulfils the whims of a bossy general's widow (Silvana De Santis). His dissatisfaction peaks when he meets a couple of teenage girls from his hometown. Finally, Ken Loach (My Name Is Joe, Sweet Sixteen) directs a trio of Glasgow football (soccer) fans (Martin Compston, William Ruane and Gary Maitland) headed for a big game, when they encounter a troubled Albanian family (also featured in the first episode). Each plays like a short story ought to play, but their moods and tones are all linked. Ironically, my favorite director of the three, Kiarostami, turns in the weakest link; it does not connect as well as the other two, and it has troublesome continuity issues concerning the girls spending too much time in the bathroom. These are minor quibbles, however, and the bulk of his segment -- as well as the rest of the film -- is worth cherishing.

DVD Details: Facets' excellent 2006 DVD release comes with an above average making-of documentary, actually filmed on the set (without the usual clips-n-talking heads). There's also a booklet with biographies and filmographies of the three directors.

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