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The Middle Of The World (free)

Alain Tanner's 1974 film captures masculinity crumbling in the face of romance. Info/tix


UW Cinematheque is in the midst of a series of screenings at the Chazen that celebrate Alain Tanner, a prolific Swiss director who mostly worked throughout the 1970s. Tanner's movies were often Switzerland's entry to the Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards, though they never really found an audience in North America outside of film buffs. He was associated with the French New Wave cinema movement, and while his features could be esoteric, they were known to contain a kernel of humor and dedication to realism, even as his characters grappled with existential and political crises. We weren't able to watch The Middle Of The World because these Tanner films are incredibly hard to find in the States, which is exactly why Cinematheque is showing them in the first place.  The one I was able to watch, Jonah Who Will be Alive In The Year 2000 (which screened in March), is a somber yet lighthearted look at a group of friends reacting to a recession, and the The Middle Of The World appears to be just as intellectually charming.

Initially released in 1974, The Middle Of The World follows a successful businessman, in the midst of a political campaign, as he falls in love with a beautiful Italian immigrant waitress. The two have differing opinions as to the nature of the romance, and the businessman sees his carefully orchestrated life crumble around him as a true understanding of his love remains elusive. The film was hailed by Roger Ebert as a good piece of feminist cinema, as the audience watches powerful masculinity crumble in the face of a relationships's emotional needs. —Reid Kurkerewicz