Sunday, February 22, 2015
3 out of 5. Noah Baumbach's black and white film FRANCES HA pins down what it's like to go after ones dreams and fall short. In the easily likable character of Frances, played by Greta Gerwig, you get a sense of someone who's spirited outlook on life seems indomitable. Her forward motion doesn't take time to ponder to long before going onto the next thing. Which is easily frustrating for those around her. She won't be kept down for long before bouncing back into some other wish fulfillment. It makes those who are somewhat jaded (moi?) and serious long for that bit of adolescent naivete in their daily life. It's a very refreshing film and very New York.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
3 out of 5. Marius Holst weaves a dark tale based on a true story in the KING OF DEVIL'S ISLAND. Having Stellan Skarsgard in the lead role doesn't hurt either. He's as icy and bitter as the winter winds in this Nordic tale of a school for delinquent boys. Benjamin Helstad does an equally excellent job at standing his ground and foregoing the harshest conditions. It's not much different than Cool Hand Luke in terms of story but it does offer some really excellent situations and character development that is harrowing and heartbreaking. The ending...man...good stuff.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
3 out of 5. It's rare when a documentary director finds such a unique angle. Joshua Oppenheimer's THE ACT OF KILLING could have been a Ken Russell film. It was bizarre right from the start and a little unnerving how matter-of-fact the death squad leaders were about their "jobs". When they recreated the scenes of murder in lavish crime numbers or musical numbers, the haunting pallor would blanket the people involved. You could see the thousand yard stare of reliving history in their eyes. This is brave filmmaking and Oppenheimer does an excellent job at capturing it. Not for everyone, but everyone should watch if nothing more than to understand what humans are capable of.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
4 out of 5. Satyajit Ray's THE BIG CITY marks a moment in time when a woman steps outside of her role as housewife in contemporary India and sets to earn to help out the family even more. His ability to capture very real and honest portraits of life is always mesmerizing to me. He's one of the few directors who I completely trust to get at the emotional center of his characters. The circumstances he creates for his characters elicit a universal response while remaining unique to that character. Like the Apu Trilogy, his power of listening is as great as his gift of showing. I can't wait to seek out more of his films.