You Know How to Whistle, Don't You?

"You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow." - Lauren Bacall, To Have and Have Not

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Short Cuts II - 2003-2004

Frida – The script is too palatable and Salma Hayek is too small a presence to make Frida an excellent film. We get the sympathetic Frida, a victim overcoming her horrific accident and her cheating husband to make great art, with no hint of the incredibly difficult woman she was. Taymor’s film is beautifully designed, though, and the music is wonderful. Alfred Molina as Rivera is the true star of the film, despite all the nominations for Hayek. No one else holds a candle to him.

Talk to Her – A difficult and beautiful film. I knew it was great when I saw it, but I like it more on reflection than I did in the theater—possibly because I’m no longer sopping wet from a hike in the rain to the Philadelphia theater where I sat and shivered. It’s Almodovar’s most thought-provoking and intelligent work, and every scene is a gem. The story line makes one uncomfortable, but not revulsed, and the universal empathy Almodovar brings to his storytelling is the film’s legacy. Not to mention the absolutely hysterical scene of the tiny man crawling into his lover’s vagina and staying there forever.

Gerry – I’m not sure I got it all, but I’m sure it was gorgeous. Vistas replace almost every element of a standard film in this movie. Matt Damon and Casey Affleck are as good as wordless, insignificant characters in a vast desert can be, and they make you believe in the characters’ disorientation and despair. The penultimate scene, when Damon strangles Affleck, is incredible, and the last scene of a pensive Damon returning to civilization can’t help but be a letdown.

Divided We Fall – I rented this again recently, and liked it as much as the first time I saw it. Josef and Maria and their refugee David may have archetypal names, but they’re typically Czech in their sensibilities, and refreshingly unheroic. Their fears, failures, and fallibilities make their story more engaging and rewarding than most stories of Holocaust victims and rescuers. The Czech title, Musime si Pomahat (we must stick together) summarizes the message of a film where there are no great heros and no complete villains. Director Jan Hrebejk maintains a light touch, but never glosses over the seriousness of the subject. The humor, and there is a lot of it, doesn't distract you from the story or cheapen the characters' suffering and sacrifices. Benigni, I'm looking at you.

1 Comments:

At 1:24 PM, Blogger lennyharolds93202411 said...

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