Monday, December 5, 2011

RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS: EDITION 15: "JANE EYRE", "CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS", "THE TRIP," "GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH," "HARRY BROWN", "MAX MANUS: MAN OF WAR", "BRONSON," AND MORE!

Another week, a lot of movies this week, including a lot of newer ones. (Aka movies from the last two years) The really big news though is that David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews has just passed 1,000 HITS! We're very excited, especially since last month was our biggest ever, so I want to thank everybody for your support and encourage you all to keep reading my blog, we are very happy for the support. In other news, I completed the 30 Day Movie Challenge earlier this week as many of you know. That was fun, and a lot of work, and I encourage others to participate in it. Although, I have put off and scrapped a few other blog ideas in the past in order to continually update on the challenge, and I'm hoping to not have to do that as often in the immediate future. Hopefully there will be m ore thoughts on the things currently happening in the entertaining world. For example, Award Season has begun, and I'm paying close attention. Already, "The Tree of Life," Beginners," "The Artist," "The Descendants," and "Melancholia," all films I haven't seen yet unfortunately, but they're also all films that have either won lots of nomination and/or best film Awards by some group in the last couple weeks, and it's still early as Award season seems more confusing and unpredictable than it has in recent years. You'll also notice, that I've included our twitter account on every page now, right on our mission statement above. I have 8 followers at the moment on Twitter, and 11 followers to this blog. Now, I know there's more readers than that, so please follow and join us either by becoming a follower of the blog, or at least following us on Twitter.com, where you'll get more random and immediate quick hits from me than here, plus every notice of my blog updates.

Well, that's all for this week. Here's this weeks reviews!:

JANE EYRE (2011) Director: Cary Fukunaga

3 STARS

This is the first film adaptation of "Jane Eyre," that I've seen; the one with Orson Welles is on my Netflix. I also somehow never got around to a class where it was required reading, so going into this version, while I knew some of the broad outlines of the story, I basically came into this film a little blinder than I'd prefer, and I think I probably would've benefitted from being more knowledgeable about the subject, although I don't think it would made me like this movie any more than I did. I'm also not positive that I'd even like the book frankly, but if I ever get around to it, I'll try to keep an open mind. Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) begins by being rudely treated by her Aunt, who sends her away to an all-girls School, where she is badly beaten and humilated, although it doesn't turn her off from education though, as she takes a job as a governess at Thornfield Hall tutoring Sophie (Eglantine Rembauville) a little French girl who, is under the care of the owner, Mr. Rochester. (Michael Fassbender, and boy is he everywhere these days.) Of course, most everybody knows the gist of the story from here. The elegant, almost gothic tense-filled romance between the Jane and Rochester is almost mythologized in some memories. Come at it fresh, I found it curious that Jane, who was previously more hell-bent and demonstrative, is so easily seduced. Well, not seduced, but she strangely becomes oddly submissive to Mr. Rochester, it actually feels to me like a drastic sudden personality change. In fact, there's a lot of drastic personalities changes in the film. I think they're more foreseen and explained in the novel. One that occurs near the very end, after the famous secret of Mr. Rochester, and the ghost is revealed, almost seems like a forced change to instigate Jane going back to Rochester, when oddly it's probably not needed. I would've imagined that she would've gone back to him eventually on her own, and think it would've been more powerful, but frankly it's a bad idea to criticize the writing of a woman, who's been dead for like a 100 years and isn't around to explain/defend herself, especially since I haven't actually read it myself. Either way, it does seem to play oddly on film. The acting is top-nothc, especially by Wasikowska. I've been a fan of hers since she was on "In Treatment," years ago, and this is another very good part for her, and for the most part, I think they get the mood right. The director is Cary Fukunaga, who directed the wonderful "Sin Nombre," before this, about Guatamalas traveling on top of a train through Mexico in hopes of making the long trek to America. This is, a guess a similar journey of a woman, but it doesn't seem to have a destination, at least until love comes around. I guess that's fine and perfectly adequate, but it doesn't hold a lot of real power for me. I've very torn on this film. I think a lot works, I think a lot doesn't, and I'm not sure so much whether what doesn't work is the material we're given or the way it was made. I'm leaning towards the former though, while I'm far more ambivalent than anything else, there's enough here to recommend.

CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (2011) Director: Werner Herzog

4 STARS

I should note that this review comes after watching Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" on Netflix Watch Instantly, and not in a theatre in 3-D. Normally I don't bother much with 3-D, as I have rarely if ever been impressed with the process, but I hypothesize that this film in particular, the first time Herzog used the 3-D technology, probably benefits the viewing greatly. However, if you weren't able to view the film in 3-D, in theatres, it's still an amazing documentary. Herzog, as always, fascinated with the everlasting conflict of man and nature, was given a rare and unprecedented access by the French Government to tape and explore the Chauvet Cave, where in 1994, the earliest none cave drawings are in existance. It had previously been preserved by over 20,000 years, so the drawings, as early as they were made (apx. 32,000 years ago for the oldest of them), are strikingly well-preserved. The caves are magnificent and filled with drawings. They're strangely smooth and bumpy at the same time, and the drawings take advantage of the odd canvas. There's often many repeated images of animals, and often animals are drawn with eight legs, to signify movement, as though they were telling a story with the pictures, almost like animation. Some pictures they aren't able to make it to because the ground underneath isn't steady, including the only image on a human female, which is apparently mating with a bull. An image that's been in mythology, apparently longer than we thought. All this while, surrounded by the skulls or ancient mammoth and other supeanimals, as well as early musical instruments, like a flute made out of mammoth tusks, that plays very similarly to a modern-day recorder. He interviews many experts on this era, from weapons experts that explains how a throwing spear actually evolved to pointing out the while they know neanderthals and homo sapiens both walked the Earth at this time, all evidence says the homo sapiens were the first genus to create any form of art. The shots of the caves are amazing, oftentimes spectacular, even without the 3-D. Now I don't rank it as one of Herzog's very best films, but Herzog's made a lot of great films, this one is still very strong. No other filmmaker will go to the ends of the Earth to make movies the way Herzog does, and I think only he, could've truly express the beauty of these unique works of art, as well as the important anthropological clues about us they reveal. These paintings waited 30,000 years to be found, and now with "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," they can be seen by all.

THE TRIP (2011) Michael Winterbottom

3 1/2 STARS

This movie probably hold the world record for most Michael Caine impersonations in a film, and that's alright with me. Director Michael Winterbottom is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. When he's almost about to be tied down into a genre; he switches almost randomly sometimes. Two of his very best films, "24 Hour Party People," and "Tristram Shandy: A Cock a Bull Story", were made with British TV star Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Coogan, is one of the great comic talents in Britain, and as he did somewhat in "Tristram Shandy," he plays himself here, along with his friend/foil/annoyance Rob Brydon. Oddly, this film is somewhat more banal than the other two. It simply consists of Coogan and Brydon, taking a trip through Northern England, stopping to try out the equisite local delicacies at the finest restaurants and hotels in the country along the way for an article for a magazine. It was supposed to be Coogan going with his wife, who's really the one that instigated the trip, but she's suddenly backed out and is stuck with Rob. The movie was somewhat piled together from a short-run TV Series in Britian, and first instinct tells me that it probably is more interesting as a series. However, it's also quite funny at times. Especially just Brydon and Coogan, seemingly improvising and riffing with each other. They proven many times before that they can be incredibly funny, and this film is no exception. The movie does lack a more well-defined premise though. Coogan is going through some soul-searching as he and his wife are clearly hitting a sour spot in their relationship, and he's often walking around the picturesque horizons of the nature, wondering about his life, and often looking for good cell phone reception. There's quite a few women that they come in contact with along the way, some are interested in them, others not-so-much, and there's a couple, and I use this word somewhat exaggeratingly, but "adventures," with them, which often just leads to talks mostly. I think they're more or less there as temptation than anything else. It's strange this movie. It's often funny and I laughed a lot, but a certain blandness to it that's somewhat difficult to get around. I think it helps me out that I know who Coogan and Brydon are going into this movie, somebody who doesn't might just wonder what the point of the film is, and I don't think they'd be wrong to ponder that question. I know these men, and I know they're work, and some of the common themes they like to tackle. One of the main ones being the thin line between fame and happiness. I wouldn't recommend "The Trip," to be one's first introduction to Coogan and Brydon, but once you do get familiar with them, it's worth a watch.

GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH (2010) Director: Damien Chazelle

2 1/2 STARS

"Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench," could use a little focus. The conceit is that it's a gritty black-and-white, street level film, but it's also and old-fashioned musical. It has lots of music in it, and some very good dances numbers, especially some tap dancing during a jam session. And yet, I came away fromt the movie, unfulfilled ultimately. I wrote down '3 STARS' in preparation to writing this film, out of originality's sake, but the movie more or less muddles too much. When it shines it soars, I'll give it that. There's a great dance number that takes place in a diner. The story basically focuses, and I use that word loosely, on the short relationship of Guy and Madeline. (Jason Palmer and Desiree Garcia) Madeline really the star of the film, as it follows her around, as she dwells on music for most of the time. Sometimes making it, other times, dwelling upon it I guess. What kind of relationship do Guy and Madeline have? Honestly, I can't even really tell you. Guy is a very talented jazz trumpeter, and eventually he ends up going with another woman, Elena (Sandra Khin). Why? I don't know. I also am not even particularly sure why at the end, they (SPOILER DELETED). The relationship seemed almost secondary to the film's style. I like the style. Writer/Director Damien Chazelle is very good at the gritty French New Wave mixed the modern-day U.S. Mumblecore genre, and he is very creative with the musical numbers. There just, doesn't seem to be enough of either. the movie was barely 80 minutes long, and while I think the film is trying to be a simple tale, I think it just got too simple. I kept wondering "was that it?" after I watched it. I won't try to stop anybody from watching it, especially Chazelle is clearly a talented and creative director with ideas, but hopefully in his next film, they will be more fledge out then they are here.

HARRY BROWN (2010) Director: Daniel Barber

2 1/2 STARS

What kind of sick fuck comes up with the opening scene of "Harry Brown"? I find it somewhat disturbing that filmmakers are constantly trying to come up with more disturbing ways for someone to get killed, when frankly, just killing somebody should be bad enough. That was one of those thoughts that struck me in "Harry Brown," which isn't anything more substantial than any remake of "Death Wish." Harry Brown (Michael Caine) is a former Marine, a widower, and is sick and tired of how the local drug trade has gotten so murderous that you can walk out on the wrong side of the street, and get beaten to death, right outside an apartment building. In case you're wondering, that scene is in the movie, but that's not the opening scene. The opening scene involves a P.O.V. of a guy that's randomly firing a gun, trying to scare a woman, who's watching her baby in a carriage. They create scenes like this in order to make the threat so deplorable that we'll be happy that Harry Brown will eventually have to eliminate them, at least that's probably the justification the screenwriter probably gave himself when writing the movie, or the director when he chose the P.O.V. angle. I think he wrote out of a disturbing perversion to see such a useless death. Oh, I've seen worse, but they don't come from the place this death came from. There will be other death in the movie, even some cool deaths, but this was the opening of the film, and it is a note that I do not wish to have a movie open with again. Anyway, Harry's friend Leonard (David Atwell), decides he's had enough and goes after the drug dealers with a knife and a bayonet in hand. He's naturally beaten to death, and naturally, there's not enough evidence to convict anybody because it's clear Leonard was planning on attacking and going after them, and they claim self-defense. Harry naturally starts killing one local street thug after another, and there's even one cop (Emily Mortimer) who's left with the role of being the only one who suspects that Harry is behind the recent vigilante streak, although it was refreshing to hear her partner (Charlie Creed-Miles) say what anybody would be thinking when hearing that possibility, paraphrasing here but, "Good, let him." There's some good performances here, especially by Caine, but the movie ultimately never completely recovers for me from that pointless opening scene, and ultimately, the impression I got was that the whole movie, no matter how well-made it might be, was pointless to watch.

MAX MANUS: MAN OF WAR (2010) Directors: Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg

3 STARS

I have never heard of Max Manus before this film. He was the leader of the Norweigen underground during World War II, and at least the way the movie makes it seem, was probably responsible for making sure Germany never fully took over Norway. They tried pretty hard it seems, but Manus was a master saboteur, a commanding leader, and a gutsy soldier. During one scene, he escapes from a predicament by jumping out of a window about three stories off the ground. He falls flat on the sidewalk below, but he escapes. The Nazis search the country for him, but were never able to get a handle on him. The movie isn't entirely glamourous though. Manus (Aksel Hennie) is an alcoholic. He doesn't have a lot of skills outside of being a soldier and saboteur, and he's often unwilling to bring in new members of his group. At the end of the movie, we find out that most of his crew spent the rest of their lives basically being the leaders of Norway. Manus, founded an office supplies company after the war, and occasionally spoke publicly about the war. The movie is episodic in nature, and without the occasionally update on when something taking place, I'm not sure I would've been able to keep track myself. Come to think of it, I always did wonder why Germany never went after Sweden; Manus might have just been the reason they got stuck in Norway. The movie was inconsistent in terms of entertainment for me. It looks was a little quick-paced and edited for me to really get enraptured in it, in any way that made sense to me without looking up the history myself. Possibly having known a little more ahead of time, I might have been able to keep up with it a little more, but eventually, the episodic nature of the movie, and Manus's oftentimes erratic behavior got repetitive for me. I still am recommending it, 'cause of the scenes that were interesting, like the planning scenes of some of these attacks, and many of the attacks themselves. There's a really cool gunfight scene involving Manus, escaping on a motorcycle, shooting his machine gun behind him as he escapes the soldiers in the jeep he was blindly firing at. There's also some occasional tense moments when they nearly get caught a couple times, one memorable one where they're posing as electricians while trying to break in a Nazi building. At the end of the movie, there's a scene where he meets his attempted capturer in prison after the war. The Nazi admitted that he had never seen what he looked like until then. Can't be much more underground than your enemies not knowing what you look like.

BRONSON (2009) Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

3 1/2 STARS

Nicolas Winding Refn, is getting a lot of Oscar talk right now after directing "Drive." He's directed quite a few films before "Drive," although he's only now come up on my radar, and he's seems to be very talented. This film "Bronson," is the first of his films I've seen, and it's an entertaining one. Charles Bronson, not the actor, is the criminally insane alterego of Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy). He's considered the most dangerous prisoner in all of England, and I tend to agree. He was originally arrested for robbing a post office, and sentenced to seven years, out if four. He went on to spend 34 years in prison, as of the release of the film, and has spent most of it in solitairy confinement. He constantly beats and kills people around him, and it often taken about half a dozen guards to daily hold him down just to force him back into the cell. It's really to describe the personality of Charlie Bronson. He's hotheaded, he takes no bullshit from anybody or anything. Their doesn't seem to be anything mentally wrong with him, although he was placed in a mental asylum at one point, one of many prisons he was constantly relocated to after causing too much damage at his latest one. He is witty and at times funny, but he's constantly a man on the edge. Refn gives him a monologue where he talks on a stage, often in costume as a clown or a mime. He seems to enjoy this concept of being a performer for everybody else. Eventually, he starts to channel much of his pent-up aggresion into art, some of it is even museum quality, although he doesn't trust the art curators. Refn uses more than a few interested techniques her, including some intriguing editing tricks, but the real star of this film is Tom Hardy's great performance as Bronson. The film lives and dies on it, and this is Award quality work from him. This is a man, who was never able to survive in the outside world, but he seems to live and thrive inside the walls of prison. He's artistic, he's homicidal, he's a sadist, and he's intense beyond normal. He's like a caged animal who attacks after being set free, probably because somebody let him out of his comfy cage. This is a tricky and inventive film. I can see why Hollywood took a shining to Refn, and now they're reaping the financial and critical benefits.

NIGHT ON EARTH (1992) Director: Jim Jarmusch

5 STARS

There is something appealing about cabs and cab drivers. Cab driver is one of those professions that can literally go anywhere, see anything and with anyone. That's one of the main appeals of the Detective character in literature, but cab drivers work the same way, only instead of investigating a mystery, the cab driver gets only a small, limited and intimate time and space with it's customers, but the key words are 'intimate' and 'space'. We can learn so much about somebody in a brief time such as a short cab ride, and many different people at that. I wouldn't at all be surprised if Jim Jarmusch's "Night on Earth," was an early influence on "Taxicab Confessions." "Night on Earth," takes place in five cities, L.A., N.Y., Paris, Rome, and Helsinki, each during the same night, and split into five segments, listening in on the contents of a cab ride. The first in L.A. involves a grungy cab driver (Winona Ryder), who picks up a major L.A. Casting Agent (Gena Rowlands) at the airport. She's off to Beverly Hills, and is always on her cell phone. Ryder is tiny and tattooed, but a realist. They start to talk in the cab, and the agent thinks that the cabby might be good casting for a part in one of the films she's working on, but Ryder wants to someday be a mechanic. She could be good casting for a certain part, and it is always somewhat strange to find someone in L.A. who doesn't want to be in movies. In New York, we meet Yo-Yo (Giancarlo Esposito) trying to get a cab ride to Brooklyn. He finally gets it from an East German clown (Armin Mueller-Stahl) named Helmut. Both people think the other's name is strange, and Helmut is barely able to drive his cab. Eventually Yo-Yo insists on taking the wheel himself and driving to Brooklyn. along the way taking Helmut along for the ride. He even picks up an in-law (Rosie Perez) along the way.  The funniest one to me takes place in Rome, where the Cab Driver (Roberto Benigni) insists on an elaborate confession to a Priest (Paolo Bonacelli) he's just picked up, not realizing that the Priest is dying in his back seat. That one probably has the least poetic impact, a staple of Jarmusch, who work always starts with the poetic. His great films include "Down By Law," "Stranger Than Paradise," and "Broken Flowers". I haven't like everything he's done, but I like most of his films, which are shot rather on the spot. He tends to wait to get money, and then start making a movie with his friends, which is a pretty random bunch. Musician Tom Waits, one of his mainstay actors, does the music for "Night on Earth". The most poetic scene is in Paris, where an African cab driver (Isaach de Bankole) throws out a couple of dignitaries that pissed him off, before picking up an annoyed and harsh blind woman (Beatrice Dalle), who he is curious about. She's standoffish and bitchy as well though, and her outlook and wisdom catch him completely offguard. The last one in Helsinki is the saddest, and that's all I'll say about that one. The films is a collection of random quiet encounters people have with other people, and it's a masterpiece. Jarmusch could've just made a bunch of short films like these and tour festivals with them, (He did that with "Coffee and Cigarettes," which took almost two decades to complete) but these were always intended to be put together. It's one "Night on Earth"; I wonder what encounters we'll have the next night?

LIFEBOAT (1994) Director: Alfred Hitchcock

4 STARS

Despite his many amazing films, Alfred Hitchcock rarely got noticed by the Academy. Although "Rebecca" won Best Picture, he lost the Directing Oscar to John Ford that year, and never did win a directing Oscar, despite four other nominations, for "Spellbound," "Rear Window," and "Psycho." And "Lifeboat," which is certainly the odd one in that list, at least to me it is. Can you name anybody that would even rank "Lifeboat," in a Top Ten of Hitchcock's? I can't. In fact, it's barely ever mentioned in the Hitchcock canon, and yet, it might have been his most dangerous and experimental shoot. The entire movie takes place on a lifeboat, after a battle in the Pacific Ocean. One of them that eventually comes aboard is a German, and there's some obvious doubt about trusting him. Of course, the main problem is trying to get to land. They try to head towards Bermuda, but they aren't sure they're going in the right direction. The movie was actually shot in a large tank that Hitchcock insisted it be constantly fogged above so as to always give the illusion of being lost at sea, no matter where the camera was at. Apparently it was also the worst shoot ever. Half the cast got sick and injured, Hume Cronyn almost drowned to death at one point. This is a risky way to shoot now. The only movies I can think of that have been shot on a tank like this are "Titanic," and "Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World," and they show on a much better tank, the big one in Mexico that's made for ocean movie shoots. As a film, it holds up, although it never really escpaes the feeling that we're watching an elaborate play, which I think was part of the initial idea, but it doesn't make it more dramatic or thrilling. You can see why "Lifeboat," is nobody's favorite Hitchcock film. Few films were as experimental to be shot like it at the time, and for that reason alone, it's definitely worth watching. For nearly any other director, it probably would be their masterpiece. For Hitchcock, it's a footnote.

ONE TO ANOTHER (2007) Directors: Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr

4 STARS

Based on true events, "One to Another," starts with the friendship between five friends. Four of them guys, and one girl. The friendship inevitably turns sexual, and like how it almost always does, sex seem to destroy friendships. In this case, one of the friends is found dead one dead. Pierre (Arthur Dupong) is the brother or Lucie (Lizzie Brochere) and they were very close. Much of the film is told through flashbacks as we see Pierre and Lucie's friendship border really close to incestual. A couple of the other friends are bisexual, all of them seem to be experimenting heavily with sex, and Lucie, especially after her brother's murder goes to great lengths to launch her own investigation into the events, and the investigation includes seduction and manipulation. This is a very sexual movie, although I'd hardly call it an erotic thriller. While there is a mystery that gets solved, (and I'm not gonna give away the end result) the movie is shot rather softly and bright and the story focuses along the edges of the actual crime most of the times. It's constant flashbacks were at times confusing, but I was always intrigued as to where it was going next; I'm not just saying that because there was almost always another sex scene around the corner. Actually, the sex scenes weren't particularly erotic most of the time. If anything, the disturbing aspect wasn't the sex, it was how comfortable the friends appeared to be with each other sexually. The cutting between the present-day and the flashback work emotionally very well however. We're always in the mind of Lucie, as she tries to reason out what exactly happened and if possible, why? Sex is simply a tool for her to solve a mystery that to her surprise, she might not be capable of solving, or at least able to see the solution. I was fascinated, and was constantly interested in what was going to happen next, although not in terms of following the storyline out, but emotionally what was going to happen next. It is on an emotional level that this constant cutting works, and is in the right order, and makes the reveal at the end that much more shocking. The movie is very strong, and especially so considering the brave performances by it's actors, especially Lizzie Brochere. It's a very tough and demanding role for anybody, and she's exceptional here.

DISTURBIA (2007) Director: D.J. Caruso

3 STARS

"Disturbia," is a clever little twist to Hitchcock's great "Rear Window," and is a strong reminder of how good an actor Shia Lebeouf actually is. Lebeouf play Kale, a young teenager who has a rough time after his father's sudden death, and is arrested for attacking his teacher. He's given an opportunity to be on house arrest for a few months. At first, he seems to be doing okay, but eventually he begins to get bored and starts to stare at the neighbors, after first gluing together a bunch of twinkies into a tower. (Not sure how the Twinkies people liked that product placement, but it was a cool tower) In particular, he notices the new neighbor next door, Ashley (Sarah Roemer) as well as the Mr. Turner across the street who seems to act suspiciously like a serial killer (David Morse). While this isn't a remake of "Rear Window," and that was in fact determined officially in a court of law, it's impossible not to make comparisons between the two films. One difference is that the action occasionally does exit the house, while "Rear Window," famously, might not have a single shot that isn't from inside the apartment. Also, Mr. Turner is a far more threatening villain. He even finds his way into the house by befriending, and even dating Kale's mom (Carrie-Anne Moss). Eventually, Ashley and Kale's friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), begin, sneaking into Mr. Turner's house for clues, and during one scary scene, Ashley gets caught following him to a hardware store. Most of the time, I thought the movie was working, but it after an hour, it started to drag a bit for me, and some of the editing and storytelling got a little sloppy. While we essentially know the ending, there's still quite a few logical problems with the way some of the action scenes at the end, for instance, there are a couple times when a character that might have been useful in the situation, are suddenly dropped from the scene inexplicably. I think I'm recommending this mostly for Shia Labeouf's performance. The "Rear Window," gimmick are referencing are interesting, but aren't in of themselves, worth a movie, but even if you give Labeouf only decent material, he capable of elevating it a lot more. Some of his scenes with Moss and Morse were improvise it's reported on imdb.com, and I'm not surprised. This is one of his strongest performances. The movie was directed by D.J. Caruso, he made the strange and fun independent film "The Salton Sea," with Val Kilmer years ago, that one is certainly worth a rental if you haven't seen it. I think he's been somewhat more flashy than substantial lately. I liked "Two for the Money," with Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey, but would hardly say its worth going out of your way for, and his film "Eagle Eye," also with Labouef had a few interesting moments, but strayed too far outside the realms of reality to be believable. "Disturbia," works also out of its core story being so classical, but he came close to ruining it. His next project will be the first project he's written and directed. I'm interesting, but cautiously. I'm hoping he knows how to fill in some of holes in his movies more logically than some of his other films's writers.

INTIMATE STRANGERS (2004) Director: Patrice Leconte

4 STARS

I have seen three previous films by the great French director Patrice Leconte, "My Best Friend," "Man on the Train," and "The Widow of Saint-Pierre". I think "Intimate Strangers," is my favorite of his so far. The movie begins when Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire) goes to see a psychiatrist, and begins to unload on him. The psychiatrist however is actually a tax attorney named William (Fabrice Luchini). He works in the same building as a psychiatrist, and by the time he realized her mistake, it didn't seem prudent to correct her. Eventually, his rouse is found out, but not after a few sessions, and they've both become comfortable with the other. Psychiatrist, tax attorney, bartender, prostitute, priest, I guess as long as you have someone to talk to, it doesn't really matter so much who it is. Anna is in a loveless marriage, and is considering having an affair. She even ran over her husband accidentally-on-purpose, on now he walks with a cane, and rarely is intimate with her, and she spends much of her time lauding over some soap opera, which she may or may not be making some of her stories up from. William is still on speaking terms with his ex Jeanne (Anne Brochet), who partly encourages him to continue the now-weekly conversations that are off-the-record from the nosy receptionist at his office. An office that William inherited from his father, who was also a tax attorney,  in fact he basically lived in the building growing up. The basic core story is about the necessity of friendship. Yes, the two eventually become romantic, and tempt with it for much of the movie. In many ways, there's a femma fatale aspect to Anna, but the more interesting aspect to me is the way these two people, by having this strange form of kinship, help each other and change their lives, not just in romantic ways, but in small ways, outside of their conversations. Leconte's films always seem to be about finding out deeper levels of its character through unexpected and often coincidental meetings. "Intrimate Strangers," certainly fits in wth his other work. It's one his better ones, and I think a pretty good film to start with if you're interested in Leconte.
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