Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some 09 Movies

Here is what I have seen recently. In order of preference.

Revanche - A terrific thriller from Austria about a criminal bent on killing the cop who killed his girlfriend. Has a gradual pace and builds beautifully and then shifts focus very subtly and effectively.

Il Divo - An impressive, impressionistic Italian film about a former Prime Minister who may have had connections to the mafia and the murders of his rivals. This is not a traditional biopic and it's all the better for it. Very well assembled. I'm not sure if the director or the editor or the cinematographer gets the bigger applause so I'll salute all three.

Lemon Tree - A [rich] Israeli couple move next door to [poor] Palestinian woman who happens to have a lemon orchard they think will be a hideout for terrorists who want to kill them. So they arrange to clear cut the orchard. This is a well made and engaging film that gets into the personal emotions of the Israeli Palestinian conflict even if is a bit predictable and, at times, heavy-handed.

Adventureland - Young man gets job before going to college in a theme park where he does drugs, falls in love and has a great summer. Despite the fact that many jokes fall flat this is a good film because of the believability of the characters, their situations and the 80's East Coast milieu. It captures youth and falling in love about as well as any youth film out there.

Séraphine - French film about [real life] sightly crazy painter Séraphine de Senlis. Great first hour that carries on a bit long into the second hour as we watch the woman make bad decisions and descend into madness - a place where, unfortunately, most dramas about painters go.

Departures - Japanese film about a cellist who becomes an undertaker preparing bodies for their 'departure'. Sensitive film with some good early scenes about rituals but it gets too sentimental midway through. I like the rock metaphor but it only adds some interest to the story. Also what's up with most of the recently departed being women?

The Limits of Control - Laconic hit man (Isaach De Bankolé) - who lives on paper and espresso - goes to Spain to kill some bigwig [Bill Murray] in this flatter than a pancake drama. I'm a fan of Jarmusch's existential, dead pan style but I had no connection with this film at all.

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