Tuesday, August 09, 2011

PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED (Francis Ford Coppola, 1986)

**½
USA
Back to the Future for disillusioned 80s housewives. Never mind the usual qualms about time travel movies* - just as basic storytelling, this one is weirdly erratic and disjointed. Key scenes seem to be missing and various emotionally charged conversations have no impact on the relationships involved since the characters seem to have forgotten them when they pop up five minutes later.

Several people in the cast are under the unfortunate impression that they have the lead role, while Kathleen Turner hacks away at her big closeups with all the gusto of Charles Busch in Susan Hayward mode.

Like a lot of sunny 80s tackfests, this one is fun to revisit in a half-nostalgic, half-ironic way. But if I was watching it 1986, I'd be pretty confident it's a piece of shit.



* e.g. why would you keep talking about people standing in front of you in the past tense and why won't anybody pick you up on it? why wouldn't you run to the police and warn them to take special care with the president in Dallas in November 1962? why do people in the 60s have hairstyles from the 80s? what are all these 36 year olds doing in a classroom? what made Peggy Sue's whitebread all-American parents adopt an awkward, expressionless girl from southern Italy? how could those sketchy, unhinged actorly tics evolve into something that could net Nicolas Cage an Oscar? The mind boggles.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, August 08, 2011

Melbourne International Film Festival: THE TOP 10

What a fabulous year this was for Cannes. But also for MIFF!
  1. BEGINNERS
    dir: Mike Mills
  2. MELANCHOLIA
    dir: Lars von Trier
  3. TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS
    dir: Radu Muntean
  4. A SEPARATION
    dir: Asghar Farhadi
  5. ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA
    dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  6. POLISSE
    dir: Maïwenn
  7. TERRI
    dir: Azazel Jacobs
  8. THE FUTURE
    dir: Miranda July
  9. THE KID WITH A BIKE
    dir: Jean-Pierre, Luc Dardenne
  10. TABLOID
    dir: Errol Morris
With very honourable mentions going out to Elena, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Michael, Take Shelter and The Turin Horse.

Best Actress:
KIRSTEN DUNST (Melancholia)
runner-ups: Mirela Oprisor (Tuesday, After Christmas), Leila Hatami (A Separation), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)

Best Actor:
MUHAMMET UZUNER (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia)
runner-ups: Dragos Bucur (Tuesday, After Christmas), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter), Thomas Doret (The Kid with a Bike)

Best Supporting Actress:
MARY PAGE KELLER (Beginners)
runner-ups: Yelena Lyadova (Elena), Maria Popistasu (Tuesday, After Christmas), Karin Viard (Polisse)

Best Supporting Actor:
TANER BIRSEL (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia)
runner-ups: John C. Reilly (Terri), Yilmaz Erdogan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Shahab Hosseini (A Separation)

Best Screenplay:
MIKE MILLS (Beginners)
[impeccable] runner-ups: Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Lars von Trier (Melancholia), Radu Muntean (Tuesday, After Christmas), Asghar Farhadi (A Separation)

Best Cinematography:
MANUEL ALBERTO CLARO (Melancholia)
runner-ups: Fred Kelemen (The Turin Horse), Alain Marcoen (The Kid with a Bike), Mikhail Krichman (Elena)

Best Ensemble:
TUESDAY, AFTER CHRISTMAS
[astounding] runner-ups: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Polisse, Melancholia, A Separation

Labels:

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

****½
Turkey/Bosnia-Herzegovina
When a film opens with a police car's headlights scouring a barren, isolated hillside, you expect a certain kind of story. Nuri Bilge Ceylan is resolutely uninterested in that story, or the rhythm that tends to accompany it. Particularly in the context of this opening setup, his own narrative rhythm takes more than a little adjusting, but when you 'get' it, it's something of a revelation.

Ceylan isn't interested in epic events so much as the intricate lives, histories, pesonal demons and perspectives that inform, bring meaning and tension to even the most mundane moment. It's rare for an artist today to be so centrally concerned with the human condition, and it's even rarer to be able to dissect said condition with Chekhovian skill and insight.

Labels: , , , , ,

BEAUTY (Oliver Hermanus, 2011)

***½
South Africa
A middle-aged, self-hating, deeply closeted and (duh) fairly unbalanced family man falls obsessively in love with his daughter's tanned, toned, always smiling suitor.

The closet in small town South Africa turns out to be even more constricting and traumatising than in other places. Hermanus has a self-conscious style that proves somehat limiting, but all the same, this is compelling stuff.

Labels: ,

ATTENBERG (Athina Rachel Tsangari, 2010)

***
Greece
A 12-year-old trapped in a 22-year-old virgin's body is confronted with a 42-year-old's problems, namely her father's terminal cancer and funeral arrangments.

A very awkward love interest is played by Giorgos Lanthimos, whose brilliant Dogtooth was co-produced by Tsangari. In what is her second stab at directing she aims for a vaguely similar slanted-world approach. But the tone of her film seems to shift from sequence to sequence.

All the same, there is a lot of warmth here, much of it stemming from the open-faced, committed Ariane Labed in the lead.

Labels: , , , , , ,