VIFF 2023: A Cooler Climate

Directed by: Giles Gardner & James Ivory
Distributed by: TBA

Written by Taylor Baker


On obscenity and pornography, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said “I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.” Well on watching “A Cooler Climate” Giles Gardner and James Ivory’s cozy repurposing of footage he’d shot in Kabul as a young man one might think that Stewart’s assertion on obscenity is something that can likewise be made on loveliness when one sees it too. “A Cooler Climate” glides across moments of Ivory’s life from Klamath Falls Oregon to different regions in Asia and the Middle East and back. The film has a general sense of serenity that emerges from the decades-old footage Ivory shot as a young man that he narrates over with tales of his youth, his desires, and his fancies. Communicating to the viewer more than anything his thoughtfulness and humanity. 

As the film progresses Ivory begins to tell brief excerpts from the memoirs on the life of a conqueror named Babur, a descendent of Genghis Khan who called Kabul home and used it to found one of the wealthiest kingdoms in the world lasting over 300 years. Rather than focusing on the achievements of Babur, Ivory focuses on smaller moments, predilections, and similarities that Babur had not just with Ivory but with all of us. Despite “A Cooler Climate” being a sprawling tale, its focus is specific, its thoughtfulness thorough, and its heart evident, should one ever want to know about that old director James Ivory known for making those Merchant Ivory films like “Maurice,” “A Room with a View,” or “Remains of the Day,” one need look no further than this splendid and gentle way to answer such inquiries. One might rightfully get the impression that James knows he’s reaching the end point of life, but this ruminative piece makes one wish he had another one or two endeavors up his sleeve.

“A Cooler Climate” Trailer

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on film on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

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