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Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Little Movies I've Loved, part 4

126. The Band’s Visit (Members of an Egyptian police band find themselves lost in Israel – and manage to make connections with a few of the locals and make peace with each other. Melancholy with little bits of hope. Wonderfully and naturally acted.)
127. The Visitor (Written and directed by the guy who gave us “The Station Agent,” this is another lovely story about lonely people. Richard Jenkins is subtly amazing in the lead role of a man who is emotionally dead until he finds squatters – illegal aliens – living in his rarely used NY apartment. A sweet tale of the transformative power of friendships and finding love where you least expect it.)
128. Young @ Heart (Documentary about senior citizens – several of them sick and dying – who rehearse and perform songs by much younger musicians. David Bowie’s “Golden Years” has new meaning when sung by octogenarians. A flawed movie – we have no idea what made the chorus founder/director Bob Cilman devote his life to this elderly bunch – but such a wonderful story.
129. Jellyfish (Beautifully shot Israeli movie that gives us a snapshot of three lonely women as their paths intersect. Some elements of magical realism – is the little girl who emerges from the ocean real or imagined? – and performances so real that these women don’t even seem like actresses.
130. The Rape of Europa (Joan Allen-narrated documentary about more “innocent victims” (as someone in the film calls them) of WWII – priceless works of art looted by the Nazis.
131. Boy A (A Scottish movie filmed in bleak, washed-out tones that tells the story of a young man just released from a juvenile detention center who is trying to rebuild a life that never fully got started. We learn his back story, including the story of the crime that landed him in jail, in flashbacks. His relationships with his empathetic social worker and his first-ever girlfriend will make you smile. But, his transition back to the real world may ultimately prove to be impossible …)
132. JCVD (Jean Claude Van Damme stars as himself in a movie that pokes fun of our obsession with celebrity and humanizes the much-maligned action hero. JCVD winds up in the wrong place – a bank – at the wrong time – during a robbery in which hostages are taken. The public and cops have reason to suspect HE is the perp of the robbery, and his fans who gather outside the bank want their hero released – even if he is guilty of armed robbery.)
133. Tell No One This multilayered French thriller plays out a little like “The Fugitive,” as more and more people grow suspicious that our protagonist, a gentle pediatrician, murdered his wife eight years ago. But, there’s more than that ongoing chase. The pediatrician begins getting e-mails with real-time video that seem to point to his wife being alive. He’s got to get to the bottom of that mystery – and before he is framed for an eight-year-old murder as well as a more recent murder (yet another subplot!) or is killed himself. Subtitled.
134. Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days A feature film with the gritty look and extended camera shots more common to a documentary. Set in bleak, communist Romania in the late 1980s, the film focuses on a college girl “in trouble” at a time when abortion was illegal. The real star of the film is the clueless girl’s friend and roommate, who is almost a Christ figure in the lengths she goes to in order to help. You feel as if you’re not watching acting – but watching a real life drama unfold before your eyes. Subtitled.
135. Happy-Go-Lucky Mike Leigh wrote and directed this treatise on the art (and pitfalls) of being eternally happy. The protagonist is oblivious that her insistence on staying happy may be misread by others. She is unable to convert her misanthropic driving instructor to her happy-go-lucky ways. And, in fact, meeting her may have made him more miserable.

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