Friday, April 11, 2014

Four great movies

I’ve felt a real need to offer some thoughts on recent movies I’ve seen. And there have been a lot of good ones. The problem is there hasn’t been enough time to write lengthy reviews. So I’ll offer capsule ones.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – I’ve never been a Wes Anderson fan but his The Grand Budapest Hotel (showing in Windsor and Detroit) is worthy of admiration indeed. Anderson is known for a kind of magic realism that to my mind borders on the ridiculous (i.e., Moonrise Kingdom, 2012). But Budapest is a standout with a huge stellar cast that both parodies and upholds the old world charm of what we think was Eastern Europe high society between the wars. The acting and scenes are terrific and if you don’t have fun at this you’re probably numb.

Tim’s Vermeer – There have been some wonderful documentaries in recent years. I’m thinking particularly of 2013’s Finding Vivian Maier (screened at WIFF) for one. This in the same league. Johannes Vermeer is considered among the very greatest painters. But Tim Jenison, an inventor and master craftsman in San Antonio, is no artist. But his fascination with Vermeer has him seeking to demonstrate that the great Renaissance painter wasn’t as much artist as technician using the newly invented tools of mirrors to create our first form of photography. Directed by Teller of Penn and Teller magician fame.

The Lunchbox – Ritesh Batra’s directorial debut has been a sensation wherever it’s been screened and one can see why. This is a heartfelt, imaginative yet simple story about two lonely people who have never met yet communicate, through notes in a lunchbox, which was mistakenly delivered to one of their places of work. The subtle acting by the two main characters - Irfan Khan as Saajan Fernandez and Nimrat Kaur as Ila - is amazing. And the ending is just right.

Nymphomaniac Volume 1 (picture above) – Danish director Lars von Trier is up to it again. Von Trier is the director who goes after the Big Questions and Nymphomaniac (Volume 2 opened today at Royal Oak’s Main Art) is no exception. Some may think this is porn. It isn’t. It isn’t voyeuristic. But it has plenty to say about love and lust and the relationships between men and women.

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