It might be imperial to claim Abbas Kiarostami’s best film is his first outside Iran, not in Farsi, and starring an international star—in other words, the one that’s most European—but I have no guilt, because in my universe it’s true: CERTIFIED COPY is the most intellectually and emotionally stirring film I’ve seen since INLAND EMPIRE
Can we please talk about the difference between contemplative and just slow? OF GODS AND MEN is the most recent César winner and France’s submission to the Oscars, beating Assayas’ CARLOS, Renais’ WILD GRASS, and most conspicuously Denis’ WHITE MATERIAL.
HEARTBEATS is like Godard directing the kind of mad love music video the ‘80s were rife with (“Don’t You Want Me,” “Every Breath You Take,” “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” etc.) where the bouncy electronic pop doesn’t come close to obscuring the dark edge that underscores passionate love
While THE KING’S SPEECH loudly, laughably declared it has a voice this weekend, sweeping the guild awards and hoodwinking a lot of people who should know better into thinking it’s more than a shallow, concave, lumpy golddigger, ANOTHER YEAR quietly expanded, a genuinely humanist portrait of middle-aged British people discovering the therapeutic power of friendship, [...]
Through the vast winter wasteland, two films arrived to make me grateful for this period of weirdly timed horror and forgettable “rom”-“coms.” (Three, actually, as I caught CERTIFIED COPY on British DVD and have a new best film of 2010, but enough about that until it opens in the US.) Thanks to Netflix Watch Instantly, [...]
Aiming for Cassavetes gets you Cassavetes, which would be outstanding if we didn’t already have Cassavetes. Which isn’t to say that Derek Cianfrance’s BLUE VALENTINE is wholly derivative, but insofar as it’s an exploration of a crumbling relationship, it breaks no new ground and comes to no conclusions. This, thanks to its opening at a [...]
Still sucking up to the Italians, Sofia Coppola continues to explore the old bourgeois ennui picture—an increasingly pessimistic cycle from EUROPA ’51 to LA DOLCE VITA to LA NOTTE and beyond—in SOMEWHERE, another film about existential angst where the cause, contra the Italians, is not the soul-crushing effects of modernism but celebrity itself. The bourgeoisie [...]
Here it is – a review of that Apple Store you have to pay to get into, TRON: LEGACY, plus the laugh out loud tragedy of the year TRUE GRIT. All that and our thoughts on the Films of the Year.
Comparing the Coen Brothers’ latest western, the chase film TRUE GRIT, to its predecessor, the camp classic (double entendre!) that finally won John Wayne his Oscar, is a triflin’ quarrel. Never mind that the original TRUE GRIT is dated by its tomboys with Mia Farrow voice, comic mugging accompanied by jaunty woodwinds, and an overall [...]
The night after I got to see Yorgos Lanthimos’ bone-dry Greek family comedy DOGTOOTH at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, that same room saw the Houston Film Critics Society name THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO the best foreign language film of the year. In the year Houston hosted CARLOS, WHITE MATERIAL, MOTHER, A [...]
Just once I’d like to see a film about an artist who achieves his masterpiece by seeking greater control. The popular fantasy is that artists are sensitive feelers who must completely lose themselves and let the spirit of Obi-Wan or whatever guide them to glory, not practicing communicators who ought to pinpoint precisely what they’re [...]
Don Hahn’s WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY is almost as exciting as Al Gore’s AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Wake me when Guy Maddin gets here. Hahn’s documentary on the second golden age of Disney—a climb from the nadir of THE BLACK CAULDRON all the way up to Pride Rock, with a glance at infinity and beyond—is more insidery [...]
Boy, there’s nothing like watching a Claire Denis film to make a guy feel thankful. Especially if that guy happens to (perhaps secretly) love COLD MOUNTAIN, as WHITE MATERIAL has at least as much in common with Denis’ cinematic cousin Olivier Assayas and regional relatives like HOTEL RWANDA as it does with the Minghella story [...]
I admit I was a mite concerned by the concept of FOUR LIONS—a self-proclaimed “jihad comedy” about bumbling terrorists—though less for any faintworthy controversy than for the unshakable image of a Benny Hill type running around London trying and failing to blow things up, Wile E. Coyote-style. I should have known better. Chris Morris (aka [...]
Is there a better symbol for our historical moment than a tabloid terrorist? I don’t mean trash-mag doodler Perez Hilton; I mean a bona fide violent terrorist whose persona is more celebrity than revolutionary, whose exploits and impact are approached with bemused spectatorship in place of active engagement. Pop history has had years to streamline [...]
Films Reviewed This Week: Indiana Jones and Temple of the Crystal Skull / Ryan’s Daughter Other Topics of Interest in the Conversation: Sydney Pollack, Contact, 2010, Forbin – the Colossus Project, Leo McKern, Zodiac, Starman, the Socratic Dialog, Carl Sagan, Helen Mirran, 70mm, CGI, Trevor Howard. The Film Talk – Part 21 – Indiana Jones [...]