Friday, December 17, 2010

This Week In Tickets: 6 December 2010 to 12 December 2010

On, the surface, this week's calendar of tickets doesn't look like very much...

This Week In Tickets!

Stubless: I Love You Philip Morris on 6 December 2010 at the Brattle Theatre, 8pm.

... but that review of the Die Nibelungen movies has shot up the charts on my Blogger stats page crazy fast in the hours since it's been posted. One night, and it is already halfway to getting the number of hits as the Triangle review, the most popular since those stats started appearing in June. This leads me to one of the following two conclusions:

(1) There is an untapped market for silent movie reviews on the web, especially less reverent ones that suggest things would have been better if Fritz Lang had directed a big-budget Conan picture upon arriving in America, rather than a bunch of great film noirs.

(2) That somebody's computer was closing and restarting Firefox a lot yesterday afternoon and evening.

Sadly for me, the latter seems more likely, especially since 99% of the hits yesterday afternoon and evening were from Firefox on an "Other Unix" system in the United States. So, tell me - was it you?

-- sigh -- Well, it was an exciting distraction at work for a couple hours. And now, allow me to make a forced segue and say that Claire Denis's new one is exciting, but no mere distraction:

White Material

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 7 December 2010 at Landmark Kendall Square #9 (first-run)

White Material is a pretty good movie with a pretty uninspiring trailer, at least in the United States. I don't really blame the distributor for this; Claire Denis makes films which favor character and setting over plot, but that doesn't get butts in seats unless you already know her work. So, they try to cobble together a story, and it winds up looking like a movie about how white plantation owners are the ones who suffer during African unrest. That's just one facet of what is, in fact, an intriguing bit of work.

The movie opens in an interesting way, with two different scenes of Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert) returning to the Vial Café plantation. In the first, she's sneaking around the landscape before finding a van; in the second, she seems carefree, riding her motorcycle. In both, it's made clear that this African country is in the process of exploding, but Maria refuses to leave the coffee plantation so close to the harvest. In some ways, the situation inside the gates is as volatile as outside: Maria basically runs the business with father-in-law Henri Vial (Michel Subor) ill; she does not hold back her disappointment about her son Manuel (Nicolas Duvauchelle) being a layabout. She's actually fairly fond of José (Daniel Tchangang), the son of her husband André (Christophe Lambert) and Lucie (Adèle Ado), the housekeeper. Maria seems to have no clue just how close the danger is, either in terms of Le Boxeur (Isaach De Bankolé), a wounded nearby rebel leader, or or a pair of child soldiers stealing supplies.

White Material could be a simple observation, but Denis and her collaborators paint a surprisingly complex and engrossing picture. The parallel openings inform us that we are going to be bouncing around the timeline a little, informing us that this is more likely to be a film about hubris than perseverance; hitchhiking-Maria almost certainly comes after motorcycle-Maria, but by seeing her trying to sneak home first, much of the admiration we may have for her desire to stick it out is stillborn. And while Denis doesn't fill her film with plot twists, she does fake the audience out once or twice. She's not looking for "gotcha!" moments, just making sure that the logical left side of one's brain doesn't wander while she feeds the emotional right.

Full review on EFC.

White MaterialDie Nibelungen: SiegfriedDie Nibelungen: Kriemhillds RacheThe Tourist

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