Archive for October, 2005

2001

October 8, 2005
Sundance
UK / France
English
99 Minutes

We Think We Live In A Rational World … Then We Screw It Up — THE LAWLESS HEART.

Lives and relationships of old friends intertwine and overlap after they are reunited at the funeral of a gay restauranteur.

Three characters’ stories are told from their separate perspectives after a mutual friend and family member drowns. Bill Nighy is fantastic. I’m now his biggest fan after the last five things I’ve seen with him in it. The basic idea of the film is that there are no rules with love. Love has a mind of its own. Gay Stuart has died. The characters we follow include his brother-in-law, his lover, and a world-traveling hippy cousin. Is the hippy ready to settle down? Is the lover looking at the wrong gender for comfort? Can the long-married brother-in-law stay faithful when he’s lusting after the French florist?

This is one of those films where you have to figure out relationships. They aren’t spelled out for us to easily file away. The three perspective thing could have been a bit of a stunt, but it really works here. I was most impressed.

* Halliwells
*** Ebert
*** Maltin
8.0 Critical Consensus
7.5 Metacritic

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2005

October 5, 2005
San Jose — Camera 12
USA
English
96 Minutes

Everyone Has Something To Hide — A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE.

This was my most anticipated film of October. And it did not live up to expectations. I love David Cronenberg. Usually. I felt that everyone was a good enough actor, save for the teenage kid. It is great to see Ed Harris and especially William Hurt whenever they show up in anything. But I didn’t connect to it as others have. This is nowhere near the classic that people are saying it is.

The story is about a small-town cafe owner who thwarts a robbery murder and becomes a local celebrity. This gets the attention of mob guys from Philadelphia who believe he is someone they used to know.

Good points: Maria Bello is good as the wife, except for a scene by the window. The marriage between the two of them is believable in every respect. There are two realistic sex scenes that couldn’t be more different than each other. The second one will probably get snickers in your audience because people can’t seem to handle sex that means something in movies. William Hurt simply being onscreen is a recommendation, though his acting is a bit, er, precious. Ed Harris’ delivery, which looks sort of forced in the previews, turns out to be just right. The small town cop was a fantastic character.

Bad points: Yes, the word “violence” is right there in the title, but there is more blood than necessary. I don’t usually mind this, but there are things that are way more explicit than they need to be. Friends have told me that it didn’t effect them at all, so maybe that problem is within me. Think David Lynch blood. The kid was neither believable nor good at his line readings.

So, I’m off to read what the real critics say. Maybe they can talk me into loving it. I’ve heard several interviews with Cronenberg, all of which are more interesting and insightful than this film. I’ll still go early to see his future films, I just didn’t connect with this one.

7.5 Critical Consensus
8.2 Metacritic

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2005

September 28, 2005
Campbell — Camera 7
USA
English
96 Minutes

The kid is fantastic. The story is about a kid in high school who still sucks his thumb. But it’s not really about that. It’s about a family. The mom’s a nurse with a crush on Benjamin Bratt. The dad was a great high school football player who never gave up on his career. Vince Vaughn is hilarious in a different role for him playing a debate team teacher. Keanu Reeves is not so strong as an orthodontist. I’m not sure what he was trying to do. They put the kid on meds and he becomes super student debate champion. Good music and pacing.

6.9 Metacritic

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2005

September 21, 2005
Campbell — Camera 7
USA / UK
English / Swahili / German
129 Minutes

From the director of CITY OF GOD, so be ready for shaky camera movement. Not quite as good as advertised. Ralph Fiennes is an English government official who marries a spitfire activist, played by Rachel Weisz. Their relationship is somehow believable, though their meet-cute is a bit forced. When they are dating, she finds out that he’s going to Africa and she begs him to take her with him. Him: We hardly know each other. Her: Take me with you. You can learn me.

It would be so refreshing for once if there was a “good guy” working at a drug company in the movies. In this one, everyone from the drug conglomerate president down to the African administering the drugs to the villagers is obviously evil. How about some people trying to do the right thing? And a “secret” about Weisz’ handsome African “friend” is such a non-issue that a single conversation could have solved the whole misunderstanding. But it was well acted and beautifully shot and Weisz is something to see.

8.4 Critical Consensus
8.2 Metacritic

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2004

September 17, 2005
PBS – P.O.V.
Canada
English
29 Minutes

Documentary about a Harlem Globetrotter and his double-life with a family in Canada and in the US. How it affects his sons from each relationship, one of whom is mixed-race.

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2005

September 7, 2005
San Jose — Camera 12
USA
English
107 Minutes

Fantastically slow, careful film about culture shock. Japanese-born, British art dealer meets, falls for, and marries man from South Carolina. Upon their first meeting, she asks, “where did you come from?” and he answers, “South Carolina”. Little did she know how true that would turn out to be. An art trip south is combined with a meet-the-family trip. She discovers things about him that she didn’t know, things that make him more adorable and also much different than she thought he was. The standout in the cast of little-seen actors is Amy Adams who is very pregnant and says whatever comes to her simple, southern mind. The family dynamic is exposed little by little. Religion is not just something to do on Sundays down in the Southern United States.

As my buddies at Cinecast said in their review: you get the impression that these characters had lives before we meet them and their lives go on long after we’ve left them. There are scenes of quietness. We slowly pan through an empty living room with no one in it. It tells us what kind of family based upon the furnishings and photos and cleanliness. There is a scene in a church basement that just stops the film cold. In a good way. A song sung by a character we wouldn’t have expected. We are as shocked as the art dealer. The person playing the hillbilly artist is so good as to seem like a real character who happened by the camera one day. You might recognize the main guy from LAUREL CANYON.

8.1 Critical Consensus
8.0 Metacritic

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2005

August 31, 2005
Campbell — Camera 7
USA
English
116 Minutes

Better Late Than Never — THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN.

Hilarious. Probably funnier than THE WEDDING CRASHERS. Paul Rudd especially funny. Steve Carell is fantastic. This film also has the funniest ending credits I’ve ever seen. I was beside myself.

7.4 Critical Consensus
7.3 Metacritic

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2004

August 25, 2005
San Jose — Cinearts
China / France / Germany / Hong Kong
Cantonese / Japanese / Mandarin
129 minutes

What Wong Kar Wai’s last film, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE meant to me, I can’t really express. I need to watch it a couple times a year, just to remember. There is no film that can measure up to that one, and 2046 is no exception. First things first: Maggie Cheung shows up for about ten seconds. They are marketing it as a reunion between ITMFLove’s stars, but it really isn’t. On the plus side, we get Zhang Ziyi, who proves that she’s more than just a goddess; she can actually act. Add Gong Li in and what we have here is the Asian Superstar trifecta of all time. But how’s the movie? Good and atmospheric and weird and sad and happy.

I need to admit something here. You know when you see that guy in the theater complaining to a manager about the quality of the picture or sound? That guy was me. Even though I’m in the new fangled Cinearts theater, the left front channel had nothing coming out of it. No background noise, no music, no nothing. So everytime there was music, which is extremely important to Wong Kar Wai, it was only half what it should have been. The dialogue was fine, the back and side speakers worked great, but the front left wasn’t there. I got a free pass out of it, but it colored my experience. And no, no one had ever told the manager before. Why do we accept less-than-perfect surroundings when we go to the movies? Is it any wonder that receipts are so down for 2005.

The main story between Mr. Chow and the women he comes into contact with at his hotel is very good. No one smokes like Tony Leung. He seems to be searching for Maggie Cheung’s IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE character in every woman he meets, from the teenager to the older, but still hot woman he picks up in a bar. The film is bookended by a futuristic story about robots and their inability to return affection. Or something. Like I said, I need to get back to see it again, or wait for the inevitable and fantastic Criterion release.

8.0 Critical Consensus
7.8 Metacritic

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Written by Michael W. Cummins