Screening Room: ‘A Fantastic Woman’

The Oscar-nominated A Fantastic Woman, directed by Chile’s great Sebastian Lelio (Gloria), is playing now in limited release.

My review is at PopMatters:

The most romantic element of …  A Fantastic Woman comes early and its absence is never quite filled. Orlando (Francisco Reyes), a 57-year-old Santiago businessman with a gentle sort of gravitas, is finishing up his day at the office and heading out to meet his girlfriend. Walking into a dinner club, he pauses to listen to the beautiful singer of the mediocre band. As she croons a tart little ballad about how “your love is like yesterday’s newspaper”, Orlando watches with eyes that simply drink her in like someone newly smitten…

Here’s the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Gueros’ – French New Wave in Mexico City

'Gueros' (Kino Lorber)
‘Gueros’ (Kino Lorber)
Style doesn’t go out of style. That’s why directors around the world are still aping the French New Wave, in good and bad ways.

Güeros is a grab-bag of the right and wrong ways to appropriate the Nouvelle Vague’s stream-of-conscious plotting and jazzy rhythms. It did the festival circuit last year and is now getting a limited release. My review from the Tribeca Film Festival is at PopMatters:

[Güeros] gets a lot of traction from its mainly directionless young protagonists. They wander through Mexico City through a couple formless days backgrounded by worries about the future and uncertainty about their place and purpose in the present. It’s a film riddled and with questions and switchbacks, circling in on itself time and again…

Here’s the trailer.

New in Theaters: ‘The Taste of Money’

tasteofmoney

tasteofmoney-poster1In 2010, Im Sang-soo’s film The Housemaid made for a minor sensation on the indie and festival circuit with its sly and perverse satire on the Korean upper classes. This year, a sort-of sequel The Taste of Money came out, featuring the same decadent setting and moral quagmires with new characters.

My full review is at PopMatters:

The Taste of Money, Im Sang-soo’s unsubtle critique of South Korea’s upper class, sends viewers into its catalog-perfect mansion via a handsome new male servant. Looking at the rich through the eyes of the help is not a new idea, and here, Young-jak (Kin Kang-woo) provides a glimpse of a typically corrupt family, their money amassed over generations of morality-free greed. No surprise, their tempers are as black as their hearts…

The Taste of Money is playing now in limited release.

You can watch the trailer here:

DVD Tuesday: ‘A Separation’

The metaphor doesn’t get any clearer than this. As battling spouses shout at an invisible judge sitting where the camera is, the message is undeniable: they’re not just fighting over a relationship, but over a country, one that has both abandoned and entrapped them. The wife doesn’t want to stay with her husband, but it’s more their circumstances that she’s fighting to escape from with their daughter. Not that she, or Ashgar Farhadi’s film, comes out and says this. Iranian writer-director Farhadi’s subtle but explosive domestic crime story, dancing nimbly around censorship rules, makes a ringing statement as clear as the injustice witnessed in each of the main characters’ eyes…

A Separation comes out today on DVD; it was one of the most potent, unforgettable films to hit screens in 2011—foreign or domestic. My full review is at AMC Movie Database.

You can see the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘Chicken with Plums’

 

Anybody seeking a well-rounded love story featuring emotionally secure individuals should stay far, far away from Chicken with Plums. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s adaptation of Satrapi’s graphic novel focuses on Nasser-Ali (Mathieu Amalric), a violinist living in late 1950s Iran. He plays like an angel, but suffers from an overwhelming moodiness. In the film’s first few scenes, he buys a violin and returns it almost immediately, screaming at the shop owner that he’s been cheated. In fact, life has cheated him…

Chicken with Plums is playing now, and makes for a certain kind of fantastic date movie. My full review is at PopMatters.

The trailer is here:

 

DVD Tuesday: ‘Footnote’

Joseph Cedar’s high-toned Israeli comedy about an embarrassing scandal in the world of Talmudic scholarship is overflowing with coolly-delivered mockery, but tempers it by delving deeper into the tense father-son relationship at the center of the scandal. Shot in sky-bright blues and backed with a richly emotive score, this is a rich banquet of a film, even if the final course leaves you wanting…

The Oscar-nominated Footnote is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. My full review is at AMC Movie Guide.

New in Theaters: ‘Unforgivable’

A writer of historical potboiler novels, Francis (André Dussollier), arrives in Venice determined to do research for his next book. As Unforgivable (Impardonnables) begins, we see that although he is well advanced in years, Francis is a fierce competitor for just about anything, and so has no nervousness about making overtures to his much younger real estate agent. Judith (Carole Bouquet), an ex-model who seems initially to be well past foolish fancies, turns out to be susceptible to his charms. In short order, Francis is set up in a characterful old villa on the picturesque island of Sant’Erasmo, just across the water from Venice, with Judith as his helpful and chic wife…

Andre Techine’s Unforgivable is an unlikely and curiously engaging thriller that’s in limited release now. My full review is at PopMatters.