Donnerstag, 5. Dezember 2013

Short takes

“Los ilusos” is a strange little thing. The confoundingly loose, fractured, open-ended narrative is made additionally bewildering by its semi-documentary framework. If the goal is to evoke the sweet disorientation when reality and fiction meet or when the movie becomes a movie-in-the-making, it’s not successful because the film is not supported by a firm enough directorial vision and the technical subtlety for playing such mind games is not there. So despite lovely b/w imagery that features soulful gazes and romantic street views, the Madrid-set mini-production by Jonás Trueba proves too whimsical in conception, too amateurish in execution to have anything substantial to say.

“Frozen” by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee has a problematic script that fails to move on a deeper level due to strained plotline and annoys at times with ceaseless banter. But its crystalline, blueish translucent look is absolutely gorgeous and the musical numbers are great- not because the songs themselves are necessarily knock-outs, but the age-old Disney magic formula of utter devotion to and belief in true love manifested in perfectly synchronized singsong, which is probably responsible for the unrealistic romantic expectations of an entire generation, is nothing if not goosebumps-inducingly effective.

“The Counselor” is about a simple drug deal gone wrong but people keep talking in big circles using implausibly loaded language that it gets confusing anyway. Ridley Scott is a master of style and shoots both the sandy terrain of Mexico and the urban cityscape of London with such lustful sleekness the movie’s never bad to look at. Still, the only one from the film team coming out of the unbearably grandiose script by Cormac McCarthy unscathed is probably Cameron Diaz. With deathly focus, gleeful abandon and sexual vibe to spare, her embodiment of femme fatale Malkina is the sole presence on screen forceful and ridiculous enough to chew those crazy words.

“Am Hang” slips into the inner workings of a sort-of-love-triangle from a sneaky standpoint and uses this to its advantage for a large part of its running time. Swiss director Markus Imboden‘s take on the material is intimate, cooly unsentimental in typically European fashion, though not as passive aggressive as its French counterparts might be nor characterized with brutal German dispassion. Instead, the movie swims in a semi-suspenseful space with a tease and a hint of menace, which is mostly enjoyable. All three main actors are well cast and gave solid performances. Too bad, then, that when motives are finally revealed and questions answered, the movie made the least sense. The remarkably bland ending doesn’t help.

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