Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Celluloid #107



In Theaters

Biutiful (2010) Inarritu - Critics seem to be lambasting this film for two main reasons: 1.) It's too long (which I can agree with...a good 30 minutes probably could have been shaved) and 2.) It's too depressing. To the second point, I don't really care. This is Inarritu's best film since Amores Perros. I think Inarritu has a problem with moralizing, but at least this time, he has kept the focus on one compelling character rather than his usual gimmick of intertwining lofty global narratives. Bardem's praise is deserved for his portrayal of a man involved in low-level crime, yet always trying to do the right thing, especially when it comes to his children. The list of obstacles is almost comical as they reach Book of Job proportions: bipolar estranged wife, problems with immigrants, financial hardship, and oh yeah, terminal cancer. However, this is still a really gorgeous film with interesting imagery and I found it to be a huge improvement over Babel. 3.5/5

Rabbit Hole (2010) Mitchell - Parents dealing with the death of a child could have easily entered well-worn cliched territory, but instead John Cameron Mitchell departs from his homosexual and sex-positive stories to bring this unsentimental portrayal to life. Becca and Howie have each found their own secret ways to cope with their loss (domesticity and regular chats with the accidental killer or attending group therapy and smoking a lot of weed). The film doesn't go for any easy tears, and I was surprised at how much I liked what I saw. 4/5

In Home

Dogtooth (2009) Lanthimos - A strange Greek family. The three children, all in their late teens or twenties, have been shut off from the rest of the world. Only the father can leave their lush compound. They learn alternate vocabulary for problematic words (ex. "telephone" means salt) and the parents lie to them constantly. The dad brings in an outsider, a female security guard from his work, to satisfy his son's sexual needs. After a couple meetings, sex begins to permeate the house in a disturbing yet somehow innocent way. From there, some scenes get really graphic and dark, venturing into Michael Haneke territory. Maybe it sounds horrifying, but I thought this film was so stylish and interesting...the best thing I have seen for a while. 4.5/5

Last Tango in Paris (1972) Bertolucci - An American whose French wife has just killed herself and a young woman with a dumb boyfriend both look at the same vacant apartment. For some inexplicable reason, they spontaneously have sex. Marlon Brando as Paul is a total jerk and abuses Jeanne. I guess we are supposed to root for them, but ultimately I couldn't buy into Jeanne really being into this dude. She's young and hot, and maybe not the smartest, but at least seems like she needs someone who will at least pay attention to her, and Paul seems like the worst option. I was into the ending and the tango scene is really great...it just seems too fickle or rushed in the plotting to finish things up. 3.25/5

1 comment:

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