Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

****½
UK

Teen alienation and apathy had been glamourised in movies at least since the heyday of Jimmy Dean, but this British New-Wave entry by Tony Richardson took to the topic with a stark, kitchen-sink approach. The acute pessimism of the ending remains provocative and sobering. And Tom Courtenay's lead performance is unnervingly unaffected.

dir: Tony Richardson
wr: Alan Sillitoe
ph: Walter Lassally
cast: Tom Courtenay, Michael Redgrave, Avis Bunnage, Alec McCowen, James Bolam, Joe Robinson, Dervis Word, Topsy Jane, Julia Foster

The Lives of Others (2006)

***½
Germany

A solemn tale about the GDR Stasi forces wire-tapping the apartment of a potentially subversive playwright and his actress girlfriend in the mid-80s. On the level of a suspense thriller it delivers unquestionably, but first-time helmer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has greater ambitions. He wants you to come away from his movie pondering the political responsibilities of an artist as well as the creeping erosion of human rights in our current political climate. And inevitably you do end up pondering these matters, along with the unfortunate tendency of von Donnersmarck's characters to communicate in expository dialogue as well as his valiant conceit to pursue his plotline a good 20 minutes after it stops being relevant.

wr/dir: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
cast: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Thomas Thieme, Hans-Uwe Bauer, Volkmar Kleinert, Matthias Brenner, Thomas Arnold, Ludwig Blochberger

Inside Paris (2006)

***½
France

A very French tale of two brothers, one a morose depressive, the other an airy bed-hopper. It gets snarky and cutesy at its worst, but it's breezy fun for the most part.

dir: Christophe Honoré
cast: Romain Duris, Louis Garrel, Joanna Preiss, Guy Marchand, Marie-France Pisier, Alice Butaud, Helena Noguerra