Man on Wire: Phillipe Petit is a tightrope walker. Obviously he's a bit crazy, but also likably mischievous, enthusiastic, and infectiously passionate. This documentary about his "adventure" to tightrope walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the mid-1970s, is beautiful and moving. My eyes welled up near the beginning just from a shot of a picture of Phillipe walking between two towers of the Notre Dame cathedral. It is remarkable how these images stick in one's head causing reflection and appreciation for being alive. While it is never mentioned, this film also serves as the perfect reclamation of the twin towers from the despair of 9/11. A passion for life replacing the images of death. 5/5
Atonement (2007) Wright - After reading the novel earlier this year and recalling that this film made its way onto many critics "Top 10 of 2007" lists last year, I felt that I should watch this film. I was surprised at how visually interesting it was. I like that the film and the book examine the power of the written word and the concept of perception, but my problem with both still lies in the ending. I will admit that the film is less tedious or cheesy than the book's version, but I still wasn't totally fine with it. Also, the standard complaint with any book adaptation usually has something to do with lack of detail or character development, and I think that exists here to the point, that I think I was only able to appreciate this movie as much as I did by having the knowledge obtained from the book. 3.5/5
Cria Cuervos (1977) Saura - I find little Ana Torrent's face so compelling to watch that I wish she had made more films in her youth. So sad and androgynous! This film is about three sisters coping with the death of their mother first from cancer, and then their father's death from a likely heart attack. Ana is the middle child and often has dreams or visions of her mother and has the hardest time with their aunt who has come to raise them. More mood than plot, and features a really cool (but sad) song by Jeanette called "Por Que te Vas". 4/5
Sansho the Bailiff (1954) Mizoguchi - A story about a wife and her two kids who are travelling to the husband's new government post, but along the way are kidnapped, separated, and sold into slavery. The children work in the same place for ten years before attempting to escape and reunite with their parents. The father of the story has also instilled a deep moral code in his children regarding the importance of "mercy," which later plays a significant role in the film. 4/5
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) Pollack - During the Depression of the 1930s, dance contests of endurance were a popular form of entertainment and a way for people down on their luck to potentially make a little money. The dance marathon in itself has plenty of emotional and tense moments, but the sense of hopelessness is what really nags at you after viewing. 4/5
* Jiri Menzel, the Czech director of my favorite film of all-time, Closely Watched Trains, actually has a new film being released in the U.S. I guess I just assumed he was dead, but instead he is offering up another adaptation of a Hrabal novel (much like Closely Watched Trains ) called I Served the King of England. This is news that I could pretty much pee my pants over. (Thanks to Saxon for the tip)
* Michael Haneke is filming his follow-up to Funny Games (US), a film being called Das Weisse Band (or "The White Bound" as best as I can figure). The description is about a rural school in 1913 and the ritual punishments enacted there...
* Gael Garcia Bernal and his best friend Diego Luna will be starring in Rudo y Cursi, a soccer comedy/drama slated for release (in Mexico at least) around the end of the year.