Monday, February 04, 2008

Good, if slow.

I'm starting to fall behind here, so I'll just capsule a couple that are beginning to fall out the back of my brain. I feel kind of lame doing it, since there isn't any review for I Don't Want to Sleep Alone on eFilmCritic and it's always an interesting challenge to do a good one for something so far outside the mainstream.

It's also the mood I'm in;

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 14 January 2008 at the Brattle Theater (Recent Raves)

There's much to admire about this movie, no question. Maybe about half an hour too much, really; it's one of those films where what's going on is very clear early on, but it keeps going on and on to make sure the audience really gets it. And then it keeps going, driving home the point of how Jesse James was perceived differently from Ford all the way to Ford's death.

The buzz on this movie has mostly been about Casey Affleck's performance as Robert Ford, and it's very good, but I think it caused people to unfairly overlook just how great Brad Pitt is. Affleck's Ford is starry-eyed and ingratiating, but it's a performance where one can really see the acting; it loudly proclaims itself to be a performance. Pitt's James takes a little more effort to crack; we get glimpses of the charismatic figure who became a folk hero despite being a murderer and a thief, but Pitt and writer/director Andrew Dominik get to chip away at that. James is nuts, killing off the gang from is last robbery one by one, and that's engrossing: His paranoia is exerting more and more power over him, but he continues to act as though he's being perfectly reasonable.

What really made this movie feel longer than it is, though, was Sam Shepard, or more precisely, the lack thereof. It's just borderline cruel to introduce a character who is as much fun to watch as his Frank James and then shuffle him off for the vast majority of the movie, other than a wordless and brief reappearance midway through. Similarly, Zooey Deschanel is underused at the end.

Hei yan quan (I Don't Want to Sleep Alone)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 17 January 2008 at the Brattle Theater (Recent Raves)

It's a real shame art house films like this don't get released on the HD formats yet. This is a tremendously good-looking movie, but few will be able to see it in theaters, and Tsai Ming-liang's compositions may wind up getting clobbered at DVD resolution. He likes wide shots, putting the character we're supposed to pay attention to in the background, and forcing us to look closely, to really engage our attention even though not much seems to be happening.

Like the other films of his I've seen, I Don't Want to Sleep Alone is a record of people who manage to be isolated despite having no place of their own. The stories are small, but heartfelt - an illegal worker nursing a man beaten nearly to death back to health, and a young woman who later encounters that second man when she's not caring for a comatose relative. The connections between them are pretty straightforward, but since the story is not the primary concern, the simplicity isn't much of a problem.


Anonymous said...

Blue state DVD release Feb 12..
its great and very romantic just in time for valentines day

Blue State Synopsis
Vowing to move to Canada if John Kerry loses the 2004 election, fervent liberal John Logue (Breckin Meyer) suddenly finds himself with no job, no girlfriend – and no country! Making good on his “campaign promise,” Logue finds a traveling companion--a sexy, mysterious woman named Chloe (Anna Paquin)--and heads north. But Chloe is not all that she seems, and their journey takes more twists and turns than either could have imagined in this romantic comedy that’s as poignant as it is “disarmingly fun” (Martin Kelley, CinemATL).

Release Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Anonymous said...

i am your opininion too