Dir. J.A. Bayona
(2012, PG-13, 114 minutes)
My primary concern going into The Impossible was that the film, chronicling the tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, would be a whitewash of events, filtering the disaster, which killed a quarter million people throughout the region, through the eyes of affluent Europeans. That concern is partly founded, as this is indeed a film about affluent white Europeans, whose Thailand resort vacation was interrupted by the worst natural disaster in modern history. That in and of itself is not a fault, but in the back of my mind I couldn’t shake the awareness that it casts Thais as secondary characters in their own tragedy, in the background of the story of a family that gets to fly away at the end.
Dir. Clint Eastwood
(2011, R, 137 min)
J. Edgar is an informative film about the growth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, but it’s more instructive than passionate. In the last decade, director Clint Eastwood has made reflective, expressive films like Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima with a minimalist style whose economy brought out the power of his subjects; his still waters run deep. With J. Edgar, though he retains the somberness and desaturated tones of his previous work, he doesn’t capture the same intimacy. His characters don’t draw us in as fully, and his more emotional scenes feel as though they’re trying too hard.
Dir. Rodrigo García
(2010, R, 127 min)
★ ★ ½
Mother and Child is a film about adoption that never lets us forget it’s about adoption. It’s the subject of scenes even when it doesn’t make sense for it to be, as when the owner of a high-powered law firm asks his new associate why she never searched for her birth mother, or when, at a family picnic, another character’s step-daughter asks out of nowhere why she’s never searched for the daughter she gave up. We’re not watching characters who have experienced adoption. We’re watching characters written entirely around adoption.
Dir. Doug Liman
(2010, PG-13, 108 min)
What’s wrong with Fair Game can best be observed in its depictions of infamous Bush administration officials Scooter Libby and Karl Rove. Libby (David Andrews), whose entrance could as easily have been scored to the Star Wars Darth Vader music, storms into the halls of the CIA, where he demands that someone make the case that Saddam Hussein is acquiring weapons of mass destruction; no one investigating Iraq believes there’s credible evidence, except one zealous half-wit who soon is briefing the President on aluminum rods. Later, Libby and Rove (Adam LeFevre) conspire to ruin covert operative Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson, and they’re so cartoonishly sinister that even a good liberal like me can’t take any satisfaction. All they’re missing are white cats to stroke and mustaches to twirl.
I’ve had a complex relationship with David Lynch ever since I first encountered his 2001 masterpiece Mulholland Drive. I’ve seen it about half a dozen times now, and I’ve sought out other of his films that I’ve loved (The Elephant Man), hated (Eraserhead), or couldn’t decipher one way or another (Blue Velvet, Inland Empire). The only emotion Lynch has never elicited is indifference … Read the rest of my review at Culturazzi.org
Dir. Michael Haneke
I rented Funny Games out of curiosity. They say it killed the cat.