Sunday, May 4, 2008
New Films: The Visitior, The Wackness, The Good Night, Paris Je' T'aime
Here's my review I posted on mp.com like a week ago.
Very good..and well worthy of the awards and high praise it received at SUNDANCE and ever since. Funny at times..good story. A man goes to his NYC apt for the 1st time in a few years and finds a minority couple living in it. As it turns out the guy is in NYC from Syria..playing his music on hand drums. But he's also an illegal alien but doesn't know it. The older fella learns to play the African hand-drums from him..which is cool and funny at the same time. Really a subtle, yet charming tale of a man who finds friendship in his midlife with an unexpected couple. Also stresses about the tru stories about the illegal aliens in this country and how they are treated post-9/11
I did catch it a 2nd time this past week and the only things I can add I suppose are the somewhat ambigious ending leaves you wanting some resolution. I do really like the dude who played Tarek. And I think some of the best moments are the humor of him playing drums, and even behind the table trying to sell the jewelry. I haven't seen Richard Jenkins before that I know of, but I'll certainly be interested in his future work. Much like the woman who played Tarek's mother. She was also quite good.
Caught an advanced screening of this one this past week (4/29/08). Ben Kingsley and Olivia Thirlby were 2 of the faces people will recognize. The lead actor reminds of a few other actors, but I can't claim to remember seeing him specifically in anything before. Set in 1994, he's 18, a HS senior whose family is struggling in NYC to make ends meet. Luke, finds his way by selling weed and bonding with his pothead school-shrink played by Kingsley. Thirlby, known for JUNO, but probably the best thing I've seen her do, sorta plays the encapsulated love-interest that seemed to be too good to ultimately help Luke out. She is enough eye-candy to see this one alone. Kingsley's character has enough funny moments where you grow to care about him. This isn't one I would say everyone out there will go for, but it's hardly mailed-in. The 1994 18 y/o thing kinda hits home since, I was 18 in the Summer of 1994. I wished they'd at least have had 1 Beavis reference, but maybe they did and I missed it?
The Good Night
Richard Roeper mentioned this film like 2 or 3 weeks ago as a under-seen or under the radar film that nobody saw last year. I wouldn't disagree, but I'd also add others to that list (FIRST SNOW, WRIST CUTTERS to name a few). Martin Freeman I have yet to see do anything bad, and I wouldn't say this would qualify for that either. However, this was certainly a picture that is a bit more rewarding from the ending. His love interest is played by Gwyneth Paltrow, as it turns out the director is the brother of in fact. The thing about their relationship is, they aren't the most happy couple, which is intentional on the part of the story. Which to some may be a bit of a job to get through watching. Paul (Freeman) in the process of his disappointing life apparently due to lack of career and romantic happiness, is drawn into a more fulfilling situation in his dreams, where he encounters the pleasure of an alluring lady (Penelope Cruz) that seems pretty much just a *fantasy*. So this leads him to investigate more about those dreams in his waking-life. He meets Danny Devito's character, who now in hearing the commentary from the director, is in many ways a potential reflection of what he'll become..for better or for worse. Devito's character Mel I would say is the most enjoyable character, which doesn't surprise me. He's a lucid-dreaming junkie so to speak, but also one that gets by with odd-jobs and experiences that don't necessarily show so much in his waking life. Why the ending helps this film out is, in the dramatic event which involves his relationship with Dora, *spoiler*...the classic tale of a boy loses girl, then experiences a life-threatening situation and the girl comes back to him. Except, in this case, Paul goes into a Coma and is then left to be in his fantasy state for an uncertain amount of time. Although, he ends up having to choose in that case whether to be with the *fantasy* girl or stay with his longtime relationship. The ending made you care more about him, which actually is not that uncommon in many romantic dramas. But it was told in a cool way. Also the fact most of this movie was shot in London was pretty surprising to learn.
Paris, Je T'aime
Didn't see this originally, but decided to rent the DVD. Liked much of it, some of the stories were quite amusing. The cast was pretty good. Suppose my original reason for not seeing were justified in that like LOVE ACTUALLY or some others I've seen, it's sorta not enough of each character to get into, but for brief moments it can work as "less is more." Something like 14 5-10minute little films take place in Paris that the theme of love is used as a basis. My favorite probably being the Elijah Wood vampire seduction one, the Juliette Binoche losing her son but seeing a cowboy as well. The Bob Hoskins one was certainly good..the point where that woman slaps him had me cracking up a bit. I did like the way some of the characters met at the end, but if they could have, it might have been neat to have all of them at some party at a table or something, but I can only imagine that being next to impossible with the ensemble cast that were all in this.