Face (Visage) An elegy to cinema, particularly that of France. Like Tsai-Ming Lang's other films, it's filled with long stationary shots, seemingly disconnected scenes and no apperance of plot. The film features french stars of all generations, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Fanny Ardant, Jeanne Moreau, and Matheiu Amalric, among a host of others. Taking place almost entirely in Tuliers and the basements and boiler rooms of the Louvre, it roughly sketches a portrait of a film director who interupts production when his mother dies. There are songs, discussion on film and images, many a mention of Truffaut, and there is great beauty in the film. I counted about 30 or so walk-outs, but I can say honestly that I loved it.
Mother A character study about a mother who's son is convicted of murdering a neighborhood girl. It's rather crazy and as the film unfolds we learn more about the son, more about the mother, more about their relationship, about the mental lengths people will go for loved ones and the film is genuienly surprising and not at all formulaic or conventional. Oddly enough it's directed by the same director of The Host.
Nymph Thai film covering some of the same ground as Antichrist. Very strange and very slow, relying on Thai myth, and lots of very slow steadicam shots. It's beautiful and satisfying emotionally, even if I have no idea what happened. Same director as Last Life in the Universe.
Where the Wild Things Are I saw it a second time and it's only cemented my opinion. The best film I've seen so far this year and I think it'll become a classic. That supposition is made more possible by the fact that it's doing well financially and people are enjoying it. It's a shame Ebert missed the boat, but do yourself a favor and see it in a theater on a big screen, it's worth it.
Toy Story 1 and 2 in 3-D are very much as they are in 2-D. The 3-D didn't distract but it's not essential. I brought my 3 year old nephew and he refused to wear the glasses for the first film so he saw a blurry movie, but I got him to wear it in the second film and he seemed to forget them and enjoy the film. Not essential to rush out and see them in 3-D if you've seen them already, but not a bad way to spend 3 hours.
Air Doll A film by Hirozaku Kore-Eda who made the great Nobody Knows and Still Walking among other things. It takes a rather fantastical premise and uses it as an entree to a metaphysical awakening and rumination on age, life, death, sex, human relationships and the transitory nature of all things. The titular air doll is a blow up sex doll owned by a lonely waiter, who comes home every day, has dinner with the doll and then has sex with it, washes it, and wishes it a good night. One day, after the man leaves for work, the doll breathes. Pretty soon she stands, and walks naked over to the window. She says she has somehow "found a heart." She walks the streets in a kinky maid's outfit, and stumbles into a job a DVD rental store. The film is gorgeous and the actress playing the doll is able to create this wonder filled character, learning about everything from flowers to life to aging to death, more than anything she wants to be human, but she is not and it gets somewhat tragic from there. Still though it is a film about the wonder of life and its decay, I was amazed by the depth Kore-Eda was able to wring from the premise
A Single Man Besides the big American films, this is the one most people here will likely actually hear of and have a chance to see. It's the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford and it stars Colin Firth (who can really fill out a sweater), Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicolas Hoult (the boy in About a Boy). It's based on the novel of the same name about an aging professor in 1962 California mourning the loss of long-time lover. It's rather precisely styled, as you'd imagine, but I'm not entirely sure it's much of a film. There are some excellent moments of Firth's inner-monologue, and some acute observations about loss and greiving, but the style of the film is somewhat of a hinderance. Ford modulates the colour timing of the film based on the eroticism or the passion or the mood, so you'll be watching a faded scene with Firth, and suddenly he'll feel happier or less moody and the film will become more saturated. It's a somewhat annoying effect. Having said that, it treats its eroticism intelligently, evoking it through dialogue and looks rather than nude bodies, and it certainly contains the feeling of a novel. Firth is pretty great, as is the grown up Hoult and British accent sporting Moore, but it's the worst of the films I saw at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Movies of the Year