Movies of the Weeks #7 #8 (2019)

Of Mice and Women

  • The Favourite (2018): Just before its surprising (and not quite so) Oscar win for Olivia Coleman, I had the chance of watching the newest from Yorgos Lanthimos. Set in the early 1700s, it’s a half-fictionalized look at the rather feeble Queen Anne and the relationships she (might have) had with her friend Lady Sarah and Abigail, a run-down cousin of Sarah’s. Put together with restrained flair from Lanthimos, it’s easy to follow narratively, while borrowing elements from various other period pieces, with Barry Lindon coming to mind. In spite of dealing with classic archetypes, the characters take on unexpected traits and emotions, which is ultimately why The Favourite manages to hold its own, beyond matters of cinematic composition. And now that I’ve run out of big words, I’ll leave you to it. 8/10

On a Cold Night in Poland

  • Cold War (2018): Another strong contender at the Oscars, which had the misfortune of running against Roma, Cold War is a tale of love and woe. Director Pawlikowski returns to the black and white of Ida and brandishes some beautiful imagery to underpin the emotional and political turmoil that so seamlessly comes together in the tragedy of the movie’s protagonists. Their intimacy in the most complicated of times lingers with passion, which is to say that if you can get beyond some of the splashy drama, there’s a lot to be found in Cold War. 8/10

On a Cold Night in Nazi Germany

  • Der Hauptmann (2017): Director Robert Schwentke returns to form with this movie set at the end of WW2, about a deserter who stumbles upon a captain’s uniform and takes up the role with remarkable skill. It’s the kind of thing you need to tolerate, all the unlikely events that come to be here, but there’s always some shared understanding that stays unsaid between the characters which keeps a shred of believability alive. As the events descend into relentless violence, there are no good guys left to root for, but in spite of it all, Der Hauptmann is a mostly enjoyable flick. 7/10

On a Cold Night in the 90s

  • Can You Ever Forgive Me (2018): Without trying, the movies I watched sort of came in twos. This would be the second one with a hard-to-like protagonist, as the story of Lee Israel is a difficult story to embellish. Thankfully, Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant managed to find the appealing sides of their characters, as the movie mostly feels oppressive in its cynical glibness. This all makes for a strong follow-up from Marielle Heller, whose only other feature film credit was the quirky, yet borderline disturbing Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015). With CYEFM I am three for three on the decent Oscar movies this week. 8/10

On Just Any Cold Night

  • Vier Minuten (2006): If you didn’t have enough pain and suffering, Vier Minuten is here to top it all off for you. The story of an elderly piano teacher who works in a prison and stumbles across a talented, but recalcitrant young girl feels like it can go only from bad to worse. Difficult characters in a difficult setting, the movie really piles it on you, to the point that it becomes tedious. Yet, on the whole, it’s not a morally and cinematically bankrupt movie, which is why I’m giving it a slight nod. 6/10