Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
Fairy tale, reality mesh in edgy, enchanting 'Ondine'
Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan has a masterful way with a fairy tale. His elegant The Company of Wolves, based on the fractured fairy tales of Angela Carter, was his most overt take on the genre, with its storybook costumes and deep forest setting. But there's a whiff of candlelight and moonbeams, mythos and romance, in his best contemporary dramas as well, particularly those with an Irish setting like The Crying Game or Breakfast On Pluto.
French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet stole hearts with Amelie, and made them soar with A Very Long Engagement. His lovably goofy new comedy, Micmacs, has an unexpected comic hero—a man with a bullet in his brain—and a very serious subtext: devastating weapons of war and the arms dealers who profit from them. (In French slang, "micmacs" refers to shifty dealmaking.) At the emotional and narrative heart of the movie is Bazil, played by Danny Boon, a graceful and winsome screen clown who doesn't need dialogue or subtitles to communicate with an audience. When Bazil was a child, his soldier father was blown up trying to diffuse an anti-personnel land mine in North Africa. The grown-up Bazil, a Paris video store clerk, is watching Bogie and Bacall in The Big Sleep in the shop one night (reciting all the dialogue in French); a cops-and-robbers chase goes by outside, and a stray bullet lodges in Bazil's head. He survives (after a coin-toss in the ER to determine if the operation is worth it), but loses his job and apartment. Winding up on the streets, he's taken in by a "family" of resourceful folk who live in a junkyard, building everything they need out of scrap parts.
Hawaiian history looks great, less filling, in 'Princess Ka'iulani'
She is a cultural heroine in Hawaii. The last princess of the royal line, she fought with poise and determination to preserve Hawaiian independence even as American military and political forces were robbing the islands of their self-governing sovereignty. She exists in a historical moment blighted by unsavory skullduggery on the part of the United States that most Americans deserve to know more about. Hers is an epic story of gender, race, class, heartbreak, perseverance, and unswerving courage.
Remember Play It Again, Sam, when the spirit of Bogie coaches Woody Allen to be tough and cool in the face of life's challenges? It's a similar deal in Ken Loach's sly urban comedy Looking For Eric, where Loach's sad-sack, midlife protagonist turns for inspiration to legendary soccer great Eric Cantona. Loach, the prolific British director best known for gritty, slice-of-life realism dramas (Ladybird, Ladybird; My Name Is Joe; The Wind That Shakes The Barley) lightens up here with unexpected elements of comedy, fantasy, and romance. There's a dark side to the story, of course, and plenty of raucous profanity, but mostly, this is a funny, upbeat film about conquering one's inner loser and going for the goal. Steve Evets is solid and crackling with nervy energy as Eric Bishop, a postal worker in industrial Manchester at the end of his short fuse.
Class, guilt and privilege converge in an unconvincing 'Please Give'
Nicole Holofcener is becoming the bard of upper middle-class, white ineffectuality. Her last film, Friends With Money, was an astoundingly lame look at useless L. A. women making foolish choices, adrift in their own lives. In her angsty new comedy, Please Give, Holofcener switches the action to New York City, but sticks to the same milieu of clueless privilege, trapping her excellent cast in a lineup of dubious characters whose behavior ranges from merely baffling to downright unpleasant. To make it all feel more weighty, Holofcener tosses in an element of all-purpose white liberal guilt. But like so many other elements in the story, she really doesn't know how to use it to good effect.
Girl ... the franchise is showing signs of menopause
Don’t get me wrong—you can’t walk away from Sex And The City 2 really hating it. It’s just that there’s not that much to really love in the sequel that finds Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her gal pals (Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristen Davis) returning for another big screen soiree based on the hit HBO show that spawned their celebrity.