Saturday, January 8, 2011

Celluloid #104

In Theaters

Somewhere (2010) Coppola - The new Sofia Coppola movie fits the usual parameters of visually interesting and slow-paced. I love how everyone of significance in this film has to perform in one way or another (pole dancing, ice skating routine, piano playing, Rock Band, etc.) Our sad, wealthy protagonist this time is Johnny Marco, a has-been medium successful actor. His life seems really boring and empty despite being full of parties, sex, and a fancy car. Due to some unusual circumstances, Johnny has to spend a lot of time with his 11 year-old daughter, and the two develop a really sweet bond. The emotional climax didn't seem fully earned, but overall I really enjoyed this film. 4/5

In Home

Children of Invention (2009) Chun - Sad story of a Hong Kong immigrant and her two children. Her husband has returned back to China, and she keeps getting suckered into sketchy get-rich-quick schemes trying to make any money at all. (Her normal job is as a real estate agent, but of course no one is buying). One pyramid scheme goes especially wrong and she gets picked up by the police. She can't get in touch with her kids and fears that the cops will put them in an orphanage if she tells them they are home alone. The kids are resourceful and try to make some money on their own, by selling "inventions." The desperation in this film is so tangible. 3/5

the Girl Who Played With Fire (2010) Alfredson - The second in the trilogy, Lisbeth is a little less compelling, and the story a little less exciting. This time one of Micke's co-workers wants to run a story about an illegal sex trafficking ring, but as government officials are linked with the story, the reporter and his girlfriend end up dead. Lisbeth gets framed for the double homicide, so she goes on the run looking for the real killer. All fine and good for a thriller, there's just a few too many surprise family reveals. 3.5/5

Police, Adjective (2009) Poromboiu - A police officer is working a case involving three teenagers who like to get high sometimes. The law in Romania is very strict, and can put someone away for 3-7 years just for smoking a joint. Cristi doesn't want to ruin these kids' lives and would rather arrest the supplier. His boss is placing pressure to make an arrest and to stop spending so much time on the case. The climax is incredibly boring, and basically consists of Cristi being belittled and forced to look up several words in the dictionary. 3/5

Soul Kitchen (2010) Akin - Charming and somewhat meandering film about a restaurant owner who faces many obstacles. His girlfriend has just moved to Shanghai and wants him to come. An old acquaintance is shadily trying to buy the property that the restaurant sits on. His brother has just been recently paroled and needs a job despite his proven ability to repeatedly fuck up. Lots of unnecessary scenes and diversions, but mostly their additions are welcome. Much more lighthearted than the other film I have seen from Akin, Head-On, but not as good either. 3.5/5

Sweetgrass (2009) Barbash & Castaing-Taylor - A surprisingly engrossing documentary about sheep and sheepherders in Montana. They are taking their last trip through some public lands. You see how benign yet infuriating the animals are, and how fragile these seemingly tough cowboys can be when pressed to push themselves to the end of their physical abilities. 4/5

Vengeance (2009) To - Basically a typical revenge story where a French man hires some Chinese thugs to avenge the death of his daughter and her family. The twist is that he has a bullet in his brain and is losing his memory. After some time, he doesn't even recognize his daughter's picture so the need for revenge would seem null. However, this is not the case, and despite danger and ample bloodshed, Costello keeps pushing on, using written down clues and assistance from those around him. 3/5

Working Girls (1986) Borden - A day in the life of a prostitute working at the equivalent of a brothel, but in upscale Manhattan. The film is a little repetitive as we basically see Molly service her johns for what seems like a 12 hour shift, interspersed with chats with the other girls. It's also clear that the film is pushing a bit of a feminist agenda, as Molly is a lesbian and none of the girls do things they don't consent to. Their prostitution is hard work, but seen as a means of financial freedom. 3.5/5

1 comment:

rL said...

The trailer to "Somewhere" didn't have me anticipating or convinced to see this Coppola film. But maybe, just because I've loved EVERYTHING else she's done I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Nice reviews.