Archives for December 2008

ARCHIVES

Gran Torino

Modern Eastwood's best
Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang and Christopher Carley
Directed by Clint Eastwood

More than an Oscar for Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood deserves a lifetime achievement award for his steadfastedness in being Clint Eastwood. More than any other, the actor has been true to a persona that goes way beyond Dirty Harry to his very first western with Sergio Leone, 1964's A Fistful of Dollars. Over the last half century, he has always been not quite the same and not quite different: ... more >

Doubt

Uneven but riveting all the same
Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams
Directed by John Patrick Shanley

Doubt, which recently sailed into movie theatres, seems to suffer from an existentialist crisis: who am I? It has faults, likely because the same person who authored the play also directed the film. Should someone else have directed Doubt for the cinema? Yes, without hesitation. Shanley is likely too married to the idea of Doubt as a play to effectively adapt it to the big screen. The movie's ... more >

Critic’s diary

Cannes Festival edition

There's a few months left until the Cannes Film Festival but no harm in planning ahead, right? In the middle of May I will fly down to the South of France, board a bus with the other journalists (courtesy of the festival’s press service) and ride down to the City Hall building on the Croisette where D. Gauthier, my host, will pick me up in his yellow Twingo. We'll drive up the Avenue du Petit ... more >

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Brad Pitt thrives in challenging role
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson
Directed by David Fincher

A deep premise with facile tendencies. An emotional story at times detached. An interesting character with only so much to do. I mean, besides aging backwards. Which is a pretty neat trick, if you can get it. All these things are true about David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a movie inspired by a famous F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. Everyone was rubbing the rabbit's ... more >

Transsiberian

In case you missed it
Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley
Directed by Brad Anderson

Notice how we waste perfectly good time sitting through overhyped, predictable, often gooey stuff—Little Miss Sunshine anyone?—and miss out real gems that come and go so quietly they might be on tiptoe? One such movie is the 2008 Transsiberian, an edge-of-your-seat taut thriller that channels Hitchcock like nobody’s business. Good from start to finish, even managing to avoid the usually absurd ... more >

Two Lovers

A favorite at this year's Cannes Festival
Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw
Directed by James Gray

This year's James Gray vintage (We Own The Night was his last film before this) is called Two Lovers and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow. Set in New York City's outer boroughs again and told in near-documentary style and with a barebones soundtrack, Two Lovers lets Gray go at the heart of his own style as filmmaker, it seems. This time around he's got nothing to prove. The most ... more >

The Class

The Cannes Festival's hands-down winner this year
Francois Begaudeau
Directed by Laurent Cantet

If you’re Christmas shopping for your favorite film critic, give him three good films from a single country and let him declare a “New Wave.' There is nothing a film critic likes to do more. Yet the recent proliferation of supposed New Waves obscures one fact – the majority of classic films have come from two nations, the U.S. and France. While Italy and England and Japan pitch in, these two ... more >