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Heartbeat Detector (La question humain)


Wed 14 Apr 2010, 5:30pm–8:00pm

Where: Downtown Cinemas, 70 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Yearly Membership Waged: $85.00
  • Yearly Membership Unwaged: $70.00
  • High School Student Yearly: $30.00
  • Triple Feature Card: $30.00
  • Additional fees may apply

Listed by: Ross Stevenson

Heartbeat Detector (La question humain)
Directed by Nicolas Klotz
France 2007 143mins (35mm)

Note: Only one screening at 5.30pm

Simon (Mathieu Amalric), a psychologist in the Paris subsidiary of a German multinational, is assigned to investigate the mental state of his chief executive (an impressive Michael Lonsdale, of Bond villain fame) by means of the initially bizarre ruse of reforming the old man’s string quartet.

He slowly discovers dark company secrets that stretch back to the Nazi era and policies regarding ‘the Jewish question’ that not only threaten his own frail psychological well-being but also, more worryingly, his ability to function as a ‘good soldier’ in defence of his company’s corporate dream.

“Radical director Nicolas Klotz and his filmmaking partner Elisabeth Perceval have managed to fashion a dystopian thriller as chilling, atmospheric and relevant as anything French cinema has produced since Godard’s Alphaville. Perceval and Klotz’s film presents a fascinating collision of two fertile recent sub-genres in French cinema – the cinema of ‘anxiety’ and those films, such as Laurent Cantet’s Human Resources, which closely examine the realities of the modern workplace.

“However, Heartbeat Detector is more experimental. It moves away from realism towards more expressionist cinematic stylings – notably in its uses of sound, music and non-language based communication – that, at their best, bounce delicious contemporary echoes of Clouzot’s dark misanthropy and Franju’s poetic surrealism. The price may be a certain obscurity – and an unwelcome magisterial pomposity – but there’s few movies in town as original, challenging or, possibly, upsetting.” - Wally Hammond, Time Out

“The nearest equivalent to this cerebral corporate thriller is Michael Clayton, but don't expect an easy ride, or even many thrills. This juggles some heavy themes - the decay of language, the hidden hand of history, the power of music, and several more - and it takes its time to pull them together, regularly wrong-footing the viewer along the way. Mathieu Amalric plays a suave, confident lone wolf - a company psychologist at a German petrochemical giant, who's assigned to subtly monitor the CEO, who has been behaving erratically. This leonine boss turns out to be cryptically super-sane, like Brando's Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. And with good reason, it transpires. As Amalric delves deeper into the company's history, he discovers its chilling Third Reich connections, and realises the equivalence of his own present-day position to those who "just followed orders", often using the same depersonalised language he does. There's no killer revelation, just a graceful telescoping of past into present and a steadily accumulating dread.” Steve Rose, The Guardian

Eye for Detail
There are two consecutive performances that the main character watches, one by a flamenco singer Miguel Poveda, and the other by a Portuguese group.

One screening at 5.30pm, due to the length of the film, at Downtown Cinemas
Members only. Palmerston North Film Society Membership is available at the door before each screening and lasts for one full year.

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