Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2011

Jane Eyre

"What's your tale of woe?  All  governesses have their tale of woe."  If you're at all familiar with Jane Eyre, you know that she's got a doozy.   But when the stern Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender) asks this of his relatively new governess, she downplays her woeful backstory.  One of the great strengths of this latest Jane Eyre, written by Moira Buffini and directed by Cary Fukunaga, is that it too downplays some of the Gothic excess inherent in Charlotte Bronte's novel.  This allows for a better focus on one of the great heroines of 19th-century literature, who sometimes is lost amidst the privation and suffering of her youth and the dramatic goings-on at Thornfield Hall - you know, the brooding guy with the crazy wife in the attic.  

All the better that Jane be played by Mia Wasikowska.  The lovely young actress (The Kids Are Alright, Alice in Wonderland) has had her hair dyed red and been rendered more plain to play the role of Jane.   Charlotte Bront…

Source Code

I think we knew The Bean was magical.   To the unitiated, the reflective sculpture more formally known as Cloud Gate, designed by Anish Kapoor for Chicago's Millennium Park, figures prominently in Duncan Jones' Source Code.  The film begins with two converging aerial perspectives of the city.   One glides in from Lake Michigan over an empty harbor, the elegant buildings of downtown looking slightly blanched, echoing the vegetation of early spring.   The relatively new Chicago park gets further star treatment when Frank Gehry's pedestrian bridge is photographed flatteringly from above, looking a snaking, metallic riverbed.  Interspersed with these shots are those of a commuter train speeding into the city.  Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) awakens on the train in a very agitated state, despite the presence of a lovely young woman (Michelle Monaghan) sitting before him who seems quite warmly disposed toward the jumpy man.  The last thing he remembers was piloting an army he…

Certified Copy

There are all manner of interesting ideas put forth and never fully explored in Abbas Kiarostami's first "Western," which is to say his first film shot in the West, outside of Iran.  There is writer James Miller (William Shimell) presenting his book Copie Conforme, a supposed meditation on the value of art, be it copy or original.  As Miller and an apparent fan, an unnamed antiques dealer played by Juliette Binoche, head off in her car for the Tuscan village of Lucignano, the dialog about art eventually gives way to an increasingly rancorous discussion about relationships.  Here, seemingly, is the writer/director's most slippery of notions about the certified copy.  The man and woman are mistaken for husband and wife by a matron of a Lucignano restaurant.  They decide to play along.  But so impassioned do they become in their roles, so heated becomes their discussion, that one begins to think they might be a couple married for 15 years after all.  Perhaps the pretend…

Win Win

Mike Flaherty jogs along one morning in a hooded sweatshirt and cotton sweat pants.  In terms of style and wear, the ensemble looks like it could be from Mike's high school or college days, culled from the depths of the closet for a mid-life resolution of weight loss and fitness.   The camera follows his slow progress along a path as two other joggers with sleeker gear and more elastic strides, separate, pass and leave him behind.   Paul Giamatti, as Mike Flaherty, round of face and figure, stops and looks toward his athletic betters as only Giamett can:  a veritable mound of pathos.  
Lest we think this an overrection to being passed on a rural jogging path, we soon find out that that the man is struggling to keep up in more significant ways.   The "PIONEERS" emblazoned on the gold hooded sweatshirt he wears while jogging is the name of the high school wrestling team that he coaches with Stephen (Jeffrey Tambor).  The Pioneers are a pretty scrawny bunch whose …

Cold Weather

"So that happened."   Or perhaps, "We now return you to our otherwise uneventful lives."   Had anything so definitive as titles appeared on the screen at the conclusion of Aaron Katz's third feature, Cold Weather, either of those statements might have served the purpose quite well.   As it happens, one of the strengths of Mr. Katz's films, as well of those of his contemporaries, is a lack of definitive resolution.   There are not so much stories as a day's or week's events.  Lives don't dramatically intersect, but drift together and perhaps eventually apart.   Rather like life.

The first portion of Cold Weather begins in the unassuming manner of Katz's first two, brief features, Dance Party USA and Quiet City.  It's a family dinner, though it's unclear at first whether the two 20-something participants are children of the parents in attendance or a couple.   Actually, they're brother and sister, Doug (Cris Lankenau) and Gail (Tr…