Movies of the Week #5 (2023)

Unrelated (2007): While still pussyfooting about The Souvenir: Part II, I dug deep and found myself watching Joanna Hogg’s debut feature film. As an added bonus, this also happens to be the non-TV debut of Tom Hiddleston. The movie tells of forty-something Anna (Kathryn Worth), who is struggling with mid-life things while on holiday in Italy with friends and their post-adolescent off-spring (Hiddleston among them). She is attracted to the youth and energy of the younger generation, in a kind of last-ditch attempt to keep hold of her own identity in the face of merciless father time. The movie is slow, which might test your patience, but its visual approach manages to create an unnerving sense of isolation, mirroring Anna’s predicament. It grew on me and made an impression, leaving me thoroughly satisfied (and depressed) by its outcome. 8

El buen patrón (2022): The Good Boss might not propose a terribly original story, but it’s a well executed one with a stellar lead in Javier Bardem. He finds all the bitter, distasteful, ingenious nuances of his character, a boss who talks the corporate “family” lingo, but doesn’t quite act up on it. His facade is tragic and hilarious at the same time, as the story undermines him with every step and makes him pay for all the duplicity. What’s special is that director/writer Fernando León de Aranoa captures the foolishness of Bardem’s seemingly all-controlling character, the kind of alpha-male dismantling that’s so common these days. 7

Taximetriști (2022): It was an eventful few months for fans of Romanian movies, with a bunch of releases that proved varied not only in genre, but also in quality. Taximetriști falls plum in the middle quality-wise, B.T. Olteanu’s movie surprising in its serious tone – I admit, the trailer misled me to believe this will be a much lighter affair. Ultimately it’s an uneven ride with uneven characters, that somehow still manages to stay afloat thanks to some inspired moments. Don’t forget you can read the full review on the site as well. 6

In & Out (1997): I’m not sure I quite got this unusual movie. When a former student turned famous actor wins an Oscar, he outs his former English professor, Howard, as gay – news to the man himself and the community around him. It’s a matter further complicated by Howard’s impending wedding and as the media circus descends upon his life, he has to question who he is. The movie sure has a satirical edge, but for the most part I found it bizarre. Kevin Kline is solid and there’s something interesting about the funky rhythm and structure of Paul Rudnick’s script, but overall I wasn’t totally taken by In & Out. Might still be worth a look for sheer differentness. 6

Escape Room (2019): The pitch is simple – Saw, but with escape rooms. The result is predictable, yet watchable. After receiving invitations a la Glass Onion, a handful of familiar actors will accompany you through this series of mysteriously dangerous riddles and you’ll simply have to admire their sharp minds and puzzle acumen. Apparently being in life or death situations under immense time pressure really unclogs that cerebral wiring. But it’s fun, no need to read too much into it or in all the other things that are just more contrived than they should be. Well executed and just about intriguing enough to keep you interested, Escape Room is typical of the genre and doesn’t imbibe from the torture porn juices. 6