The second week is always the hardest. New year’s glow starts to fade, you’ve already failed several resolutions, the weather’s cold, yet the snow is melting. So it’s best not to strive for too much, just make sure you’ve found a rhythm and are in control. Or the illusion thereof.
Movie of the Week:
- Camera obscura (2016): The documentary on cine-clubs in communist Romania is a trod down memory lane, defined by some surprising shorts and its lack of focus. Apparently, film-makers find it hard to disassociate the topic of their docus from the fall of communism, if their time-line starts at any point before 1989. More about my frustrations in the long-form review, but this is a hit and miss endeavour, which will interest you under particular circumstances, e.g. how relevant the subject matter is to what drives your passions or how you feel about watching paint dry. Luckily I am appropriately suited in both regards, my gripes are conceptual. 6/10
- Christine (2016): Funny, how things work. A few months back, I saw the (spoiler-laden) trailer to Kate plays Christine (2016), an alt-doc about the sufferings of a TV reporter from way back in the 70s. How bizarre to have a feature film on the same, obscure subject, in the same year. But it’s a thing that happens, as it did with Capote (2005) and Infamous (2006), or some other more recent example that’s slipping my mind right now. Nothing’s random. Sticking to the film, while a tad voyeuristic, it harrowingly conveys the travails of Christine, a smart, committed reporter who feels under-appreciated at work and can’t find her place in life. It struck a chord, especially seeing how I’ve never faced such adversity. But seriously, Rebecca Hall gives such contour to her difficult, difficult character, that I found myself unable to stay detached. An existential quagmire at the top of its game. 8/10
- Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016): Funny, gentle, heartwarming, you name it, Wilderpeople gets it right. The only reason why the movie of the week title went to Christine is that this week nurtured my gloom-ridden nature. Coming from the co-director/co-writer of What We Do in the Shadows (2014), Taika Waititi, a.k.a. the dandy vampire, this movie is quite the uplifting experience. The story of all around adorable Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a reject of the child welfare system, and his grumpy ‘uncle’ Hector (Sam Neill), takes them through the bush (ha-ha) as they flee from the long arm of institutionalized mistreatment and underfunding. Not much more to say really, it’s just a sweet and fairly straightforward tale, with some distinctive quirks along the way to make it stand out. 8/10
- El hijo de la novia (2001): AKA Son of the Bride. After getting lucky last week with Truman (2015), I rolled the dice once more on Ricardo Darin. Sadly, the Academy Award nominated picture dating more than fifteen years ago was not my cup of tea at all. The movie finds Darin collaborating with Juan Jose Campanella, as they do in the much acclaimed El secreto de sus ojos (2009), and features a story about restaurant owner Rafael, whose father decides he wants to have a church wedding with his partner of forty four years. The only minor obstacle is that his de facto wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. As we’re carried through a maze of frustrations, mostly due to Rafael’s obnoxiousness and his poor life choices, the movie hits a few true notes before reaching a predictably manipulative finale. Maybe I’m being harsh, but I find Alzheimer movies almost impossible to get right, especially when they focus too much on overt sentiments. I did rate The Notebook (2004) with a failing grade, so, you know, take that as your yardstick. The only thing I really got out of it, is an awesome (upcoming) quote. 5/10