Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekly Round-Up (9/22/13 - 9/29/13)

Incendies (Denis Villeneuve) ***1/2 - After their mother, a Middle Eastern immigrant to Canada dies, a twin brother and sister dig into her dark, violent and disturbing past in her war torn home country. The film is a gripping mystery which unravels piece by piece and goes into twists and turns which you may not expect but doesn't feel cheap or gimmicky. Even the shocking third act reveal feels earned. Director Villenueve is definitely a filmmaker worth watching out for.

Thursday's Children (Lindsay Anderson/Guy Brenton) *** - This came as a bonus feature in the If... Criterion Collection Blu-ray. It's a 20 minute documentary short about a school for deaf children in England narrated by Richard Burton. It won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. The film's content is very dated. The teaching methods shown are no longer in use though the school is still around, according to the intro notes. What's left is a weirdly fascinating and rather politically incorrect look into how they taught deaf children at the time.

Everlasting Moments (Jan Troell) *** - A woman in the early 20th century with a drunk, abusive husband finds solace and happiness in photography. I have to say that this film feels kind of old-fashioned. The film has the look and feel of a period European film from the 70's and 80's, you know, the type that stereotypically gets nominated and win Foreign Film Oscars. It's not a bad thing at all though. The film is quite lovely with nice performances. Didn't blow me away but it's a well-made film for what it is.

 Sana Dati (Jerrold Tarog) **** - Filipino romantic movies usually make me run for the hills. Not this one. A young woman who's about to get married is in love with another man. That's all you have to know about it. It may sound like a tried, cliched story but the film does a fantastic job of subverting your expectations while also delivering a beautiful, emotional, heartbreaking love story. It manages to surprise without feeling like it cheats. It manages to be emotional without being overly manipulative or melodramatic. This has been a great year for Filipino films, I must say.

Prisoners (Denis Villenueve) *** - I recently saw Incendies, the director, Denis Villenueve's, previous film and I became an instant fan. The way he fashioned a mystery and let things unfold in a rather deliberate fashion in that film was quite brilliant. He employs more or less the same method here although the results are quite a bit more flawed. That's not to say this is a bad film. Far from it. The performances of the cast are fantastic. Hugh Jackman gives probably one of his career-best performances in this one as father trying to find his daughter and Jake Gyllenhaal matches him as the detective. It's beautifully shot by Roger Deakins. There are lots of interesting ways where the story could go but unfortunately, the third act pretty much becomes rather rote. There was potential for greatness but fell short. It's still overall a very good film and a fine Hollywood debut from Villenueve.

1 comment:

Outcast said...

Some of these films sound great buddy, love this round-up, you always do a great job in your detail.