Dienstag, 22. Oktober 2013

Short takes

"Wadjda" by Haifaa al-Mansour, about a girl's quest to realize her modest wish for a bicycle, showcases largely unspectacular filmmaking and average acting. The casual depiction of a daily life characterized by sexist practice is hidden critique or blatant trivialization of women's plight under an extremely oppressive belief system? Aside from the fact that it's the first movie by a female director in Saudi Arabia and also the country's first-ever submission for Oscar consideration, little to be excited about.

"Post tenebras lux" is a pure vehicle for Mexican director Carlos Reygadas' singular vision and offers a fractured, nightmarish, mystifying look at reality. The superb cinematography packs the fever and poetry of a world seen through the eyes of a young child or a lost soul. There's next to no plot in the traditional sense to be found but the strong and immediate evocation of psychological response to its images is unmistakable and immensely satisfying.

"The World's End" has serious script issues, burying a delicious idea in messy follow-ups and killing off any hard-earned momentum with distracting one-liners, all the while not seeing it's not nearly as smart as it'd like to be. British writer/director Edgar Wright, who had yet to make a less-than-brilliant comedy, takes a stumble with this one, but that manic exuberance from the way he edits, visualizes and scores his films is still on ample display here, which is enough to keep one adequately entertained.

"The Butler" is easily the least stylish film Lee Daniels has ever made. It looks and feels so square and temperate at times comparisons to an extended infomercial could justifiably be made. Forest Whitaker is good as the title character, especially in his later years, but best in show among a gigantic, mostly wasted cast is Oprah Winfrey playing Gloria the glorious mess. To witness the struggle and survival of an entire race through decades of abuse in America is ultimately moving, but the film itself has little to do with that.

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