Things”: Based on a true story of
a still-unsolved murder, Ryan Gosling plays the tortured guy who grew up in a
shady family and marries Kirsten Dunst, a sweet and unassuming lass who gets cut
into pieces, literally, for her trouble. Dunst
finally gets to show some emotional range on the big screen, but Gosling does
better with the “this-is-so-intense-it’s-killing-me” role in “Blue
Material”: Feels real, but
fictional, account of a white family who has owned a coffee plantation in Africa
for so long that they think they belong there, but the revolution happens,
anyway, and they’re the wrong color, no matter how good their intentions.
A slow-moving, but gut-wrenching, story of the many facets of racism:
from the patronization of colonialism to the brutality of tribalism.
“I Am Love”
(“Io Sono L’amore”): Tilda
Swinton plays a Russian immigrant who marries into a prosperous Italian family,
who seems to lead a comfortable and unassailable life, only to shake the
foundations by falling in love with her homosexual son’s lover, the chef
extraordinaire. See Tilda pretend
she doesn’t even speak English, and though the screenplay is glacially-paced,
the sex scenes are quite steamy. But,
as the old song goes, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”
very unusual film, in French by Scottish animators, about an aging magician, in
the early 1960’s, who begins to realize that his act is considered about as
old-fashioned as, well, vaudeville. The
art work, hand-crafted, is lush, but the screenplay is awkward.
It’s like spending a long time looking at a mime:
the artistry of communication despite significant self-limitation is
impressive, but there’s something very important missing here.
Else”(“Alle Anderen”): This
German film examines the relationship of an unmarried couple who decide to
vacation together. They already have
their problems: she’s ready to
move in, he’s not; she wants children, he doesn’t.
But they discover even more issues with all this time together:
when, in the throes of intimacy, she says “I love you,” he always
responds by making love more vigorously. She
wants him to reciprocate the sentiment verbally.
But then, when they happen to encounter neighbors of his, a married
couple, we learn that he doesn’t consider her a social equal, even though
he’s the one who’s struggling with finding meaningful work.
For American audiences, this film will feel slow-moving, but at times it
delves into relational dynamics with astonishing depth.
the Gift Shop”: Oscar-nominated
documentary about a French shopkeeper and amateur videographer who becomes so
obsessed with finding the underground graffiti artists that he becomes something
of a pop artist himself. A curious
reminder that we live in the populist video age, where it’s all about
iconography, hype, chutzpah, and self-promotion.
Dr. Ronald P.
Salfen, Co-Pastor, United Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas