Me and You and Everyone We Know

(Miranda July, 2005)

alone, streaming on Netflix at 115 Fourth Place, 11/19/13

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me and you

You have to have a pretty high whimsy tolerance to get through a Miranda July film – but if you can hack it, the rewards are worth the effort.  July’s idiosyncracies are underpinned by a deep sense of longing, as well as a sense of possibility, and her characters, stilted as they may be, embody a primal human impulse to seek intimacy and meaning, even when neither seems to be in the cards.  John Hawkes is wonderful as a sweet man fumbling his way through a painful separation – but then every character in Me and You is fumbling in one way or another.  It’s a film about the beauty and impossibility of human relationships.  It’s about love and loneliness.  You know, real stuff.

Published in: on November 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

About Time

(Richard Curtis, 2013)

with Maddie Lodge, Chelsea Bow Tie (Clearview), 11/10/13

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about time

Richard Curtis is a deeply frustrating filmmaker, because he can be so good and so bad in the course of a single film.  Few people alive can craft a sublime movie moment the way Curtis can; on the other hand, few prominent filmmakers have perpetrated so many clunky and unconvincing scenes.  About Time has been advertised as a romantic comedy, but in fact it’s almost impossible to classify; by the end, it seems almost like a cinematic essay, whose basic theme – carpe diem – is at once extremely hackneyed and extremely vital.  The movie is wandering and at times distractingly facile, but it’s got so much real feeling behind it that one is tempted to ignore its sins.  Above all, About Time benefits from the strength of its cast, led by the golden trio of Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and the irreplaceable Bill Nighy.  These actors – and others – bring such warmth and humanity to their roles that what might have seemed a hollow exercise becomes something transcendent.  About Time is very flawed.  It’s also very wonderful.  So it goes.

Published in: on November 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

12 Years a Slave

(Steve McQueen, 2013)

with Theresa from OKCupid, Court Street UA, 11/4/13

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12-years-a-slave-trailer

I really don’t know how to feel about a movie like this.  It’s skillfully shot and exceedingly well acted, but it’s almost entirely episodic, and its depiction of slavery as cruel, unjust, and dehumanizing isn’t exactly a revelation.  I do admire the way whole scenes are allowed to play out in static medium shots; it’s a device that could easily come off as self-indulgent, but here it (mostly) works.  And there’s much to be said for the subtle power of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s lead performance, as well as the demented fervency of Michael Fassbender’s villainous turn.  But what’s the upshot?  By the end of 12 Years a Slave, we’ve had an experience, but I’m not convinced we’ve been on a journey.

Published in: on November 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

R.I.P.D.

(Robert Schwentke, 2013)

with Jen Krichels, Crown Heights, 10/31/13

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Film Title: R.I.P.D.

I was only half-paying-attention during this movie, and maybe that’s the right way to watch it.  Still, I’ve gotta say, it was much cleverer than I expected.  The cast is clearly having fun, the visuals are loopy and imaginative, and there’s enough pathos woven in to make the story feel grounded.  R.I.P.D. obviously didn’t capture the public imagination the way Men in Black did, but from where I sit, there’s no real reason it couldn’t have.

Published in: on November 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ender’s Game

(Gavin Hood, 2013)

with Theresa from OKCupid, Union Square Regal, 11/1/13

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harrison-ford-enders-game315

Asa Butterfield is a movie star.  Since Hugo, he’s grown from a blank little moppet into an actor of great intensity, nuance, and charisma.  Watching him go toe-to-toe with Harrison Ford – in one of the best performances of his long career – is nothing short of thrilling.  It’s a shame the rest of the young cast doesn’t come anywhere near Butterfield’s level.  Ender’s Game is, perhaps, an oversimplified version of the book it’s based on, but it captures the essence of Orson Scott Card’s story, and the climax is suitably gripping.  All in all, a win.

Published in: on November 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment