A nice mix this week:
Three notable films this week, just not all for the same reasons:
Tokyo Sonata, one of 2009′s finest films (domestic or international) is about a family out of sync. From director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, best known for thrillers like Cure and Pulse/Kairo, this very quiet and intricate domestic drama is powerful and affecting.
Nine should have been great; it was, at best, something of a diversion.
Tetro is the latest from Francis Ford Coppola, whose Youth Without Youth indicated a unique and exciting change of direction in his filmmaking style. Tetro has a more straightforward story than Youth, but is just as highly stylized. Another terrific piece of work.
Big week, for the fun and serious:
The big story this week is not the usual releases, but that Netflix has obtained Andrei Konchalovsky’s Runaway Train, a powerful film based on an Akira Kurosawa story. With Jon Voight playing the best role of his career, mining the depths of brutal existentialism while teaching young Eric Roberts how to not be a “sucka”, this is one for anybody who loves depth with their action. A wonderful, hard-to-find film.
Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight: an affectionate portrait of the NYC artist by director Wendy Keys.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Terry Gilliam’s whimsical Faustian fantasy, deserves better than it got. Check it out; you won’t be disappointed.
District 13: Ultimatum is not too different from the original District 13…lots of jumping, racing against the clock, and social message hammers to the skull. Still, pretty fun if you haven’t seen the first one.
The Descent: Part 2 also mirrors its predecessor, but requires the attention of hardcore fans. Nothing new here, but if you need a brutal, claustrophobic fix, you’ve come to the right place.
Disgrace showcases John Malkovich as a South African professor caught up in an affair with one of his students while coming to grips with the changes impacting the country.
Five Minutes of Heaven finds Liam Neeson facing an old vendetta in Northern Ireland; with James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday).
Still so tired from the Dallas International Film Festival; here are your DVD releases for the week:
Mammoth, directed by Lukas Moodysson, starring Michelle Williams, is about a butterfly effect of events around the world, involving a successful businessman, his surgeon wife and their Filipino nanny.
The Lovely Bones, the much-derided Peter Jackson adaptation of a book a lot of people read, is at least visually impressive and Stanley Tucci gives an Oscar-nominated performance as the bad guy (spoiler!).
The Young Victoria is the kind of film a terrific actress (Emily Blunt) should make after too many supporting roles where she outshines the leading cast. Note: Prince Albert is apparently never found to be “in the can.”
The Blind Side stars Sandra Bullock as a Southern booster who takes in a homeless dude and makes him part of their family. Based on a true story, and Bullock won an award recently for her performance.
Old Partner was one of the top documentaries at the 2009 Asian Film Festival of Dallas, and in all seriousness, it’s a terrific little film. It follows a farmer, his wife and his beloved ox. A bittersweet examination of progress and aging.