Sonntag, 3. November 2013

Short takes

"Exit Marrakech" is reluctantly structured like an unwilling two-parter with an abrupt ending and an unannounced beginning. But the fault of the flawed script is abundantly compensated by strong direction from Oscar-winning German director Caroline Link and the easy charisma of young lead actor Samuel Schneider, who combined to infuse this coming-of-age story (at least in its first half) with an infectious buoyancy and a tender burn. Accompanied by lively camera work that observes the breathtaking beauty of the Moroccan landscape in rapt appreciation, a stirring soundtrack tinged with an oriental flair and some great editing that lends the picture a spring in its steps, the movie is even with its 2hr-plus running time a breezy watch.

"The Fifth Estate" doesn't kick into gear until about halfway through. Until then this movie about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a charmless thing that comes with the stylistically-challenged format of biopics but lacks any weight that real-life stories promise. Director Bill Condon woke up a bit for the second half of the film, piecing together several nifty scenes that crank up the gravitas and deliver the tension, but even then it's never quite the dynamite to match what it depicts. Numerous sprawling exotic locations aside, the movie is optically uninteresting and sonically even worse, featuring some poor dubbing work that makes it all the more grating to hear everybody talk in weirdly accented English.

"Filth" by Scottish writer/director Jon Baird is a curious blend. Whether you thought it'd be a raunchy comedy, a savage drama or a bestial horror flick, it'll still defy expectations and manage to surprise you. This uncategorizable quality is at once its greatest strength and weakness, as the constant shift in tone combined with a hardcore, violently splashy visual style always intrigues and even hits some comedic/scary peaks but also exposes the filmmaker's failing when jarring bits and pieces go overboard and block the narrative flow. The British ensemble cast is solid, with James McAvoy displaying formidable range and the delightful Eddie Marsan once again stealing the show.

"L'écume des jours" looks fabulous and sounds almost just as good. Its storybook production design, enhanced by hand-crafted, outlandishly quirky visual effects and accentuated by fuzzy jazz or misty chansons, gives whims, moods, emotions, fantasies a form and wows the mind. However, French director Michel Gondry has such a weak grasp on the narrative element in this movie it doesn't take long for all that frills to lose their meaning and appear desperately cartoonish. The cast looks good enough to eat but its two leads, Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, might have just passed the age to convince as wide-eyed lovebirds.

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