Babette’s Feast

(Gabriel Axel, 1987)

with Mom, Caitlin, Darcy, Theo Meneau, Jane & Mark Capecelatro, and Beth & Mike Ford, Barn Screening Room, 3/28/15

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Beautiful and inscrutable – at once a spiritual parable and a heartfelt celebration of gourmet food.  Babette’s Feast is remarkable for its chilly landscapes, its wry and gentle humor, and its generous, melancholy spirit.  The wisdom and simplicity of the film seem to come from another time – a time when suffering could ennoble, when privation had its rewards, and when God could always be found in the unlikeliest places.

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Published in: on April 14, 2015 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

What We Do in the Shadows

(Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, 2015)

with James Fauvell, Williamsburg Cinemas, 3/24/15

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Very meandering and improv-y, but with a few big laughs and a lot of shaggy charm.  Even at its darkest (and it gets pretty dark), there’s something gentle about the movie’s humor.  Its core message is that vampires are just like the rest of us – in other words, pretty darn pathetic.

Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Inception

(Christopher Nolan, 2010)

with Jess de Martine, on DVD at Jess’s, 3/15/15

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On the surface, Inception seems like a perfect movie to rewatch over and over; it’s dense and twisty and sometimes enigmatic, so why wouldn’t it reward repeat viewing?  The problem is, watching it again reveals more of its flaws.  I estimate that about 50% of the movie’s second half consists of material that – however striking it may be – doesn’t really advance the story.  A climax that occurs on three “levels” of dream simultaneously is a wonderfully ambitious concept, but at any given moment, our protagonist is only active on one level, which means that most of what we’re watching is just people killing time while the hero figures things out elsewhere.

That’s not to say this isn’t a brilliant, groundbreaking, deeply pleasurable movie, of course.  But the fact is, it will never again be as good as when it first hit theaters.  It’s a movie that both invites and deserves scrutiny – but in the end, it also suffers from it.

Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Wild Tales

(Damián Szifron, 2014)

with Jess de Martine, BAM Rose Cinemas, 3/4/15

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Boy, does this thing begin well.  The first five minutes are some of the most bracing, funny, suspenseful stuff I’ve ever seen in a movie theater – and then the credits roll, and you’re certain you’re in for a treat.

After that, things taper off gradually.  The movie comprises six distinct segments, and unfortunately, each one feels a little longer – and a little less compelling – than the last.  There’s plenty of black humor and visual panache throughout, but by the end we feel that the bag of tricks has been emptied, and there’s nothing to do but wait for the end credits.

Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 8:19 am  Leave a Comment