On the subtle repetitions in ‘The Woman Who Ran’

In The Woman Who Ran, writer-director-editor Hong Sang-soo uses banter between friends to create one of the most poignant accounts of marital discord in recent memory. The Korean filmmaker has figured out a truth that has eluded colleagues whose characters galumph around rooms announcing their angst: we reveal ourselves discussing recipes and pets. The resultContinue reading “On the subtle repetitions in ‘The Woman Who Ran’”

On the aestheticized pulp of ‘Nightmare Alley’

Bradley Cooper must rue the day his god made him cute. No matter what cosmetics distort that jawline of wonder, how much dirt gets ground into his rudely lustrous blond hair, and how bruised those aqua peepers, Coop still has the kind of looks which would’ve stopped the hearts of boys at an early 20thContinue reading “On the aestheticized pulp of ‘Nightmare Alley’”

A star’s charisma barely saves ‘King Richard’

A couple weeks ago I watched Equinox Flower for the second time. One of Yasujirō Ozu’s last films, it stars Setsuko Hara as yet another of the director’s widowed daughters-in-law. I marveled anew at the gradations of feeling this actress could coax out of her smiles. Abashed, jovial, bittersweet — at its primmest the mouthContinue reading “A star’s charisma barely saves ‘King Richard’”

‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ scrubs the dirt out of Shakespeare

“When you do that play it has a really oppressive effect on everybody,” Orson Welles remarked to the late Peter Bogdanovich in the early 1970s about Shakespeare’s shortest, bloodiest tragedy. “Really, it’s terrifying — stays with you all day. The atmosphere it generates is so horrendous and awful that it’s easy to see how theContinue reading “‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ scrubs the dirt out of Shakespeare”

Set’em up, Charlie: Ben Affleck survives ‘The Tender Bar’

Chasing Amy established the persona: Ben Affleck as a bro of mild intelligence, able to read the paper and discuss the news drawing connections to this or that, hiding confusion about women with sardonicism, terrified about the adulthood he reached years ago. Affleck shows all these traits in The Tender Trap; approaching fifty, he’s moreContinue reading “Set’em up, Charlie: Ben Affleck survives ‘The Tender Bar’”

Remembrances of things past: ‘Memoria’

As they depict a more recognizable world, the films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul get stranger. Memoria has the touch of the numinous. Plagued with an obscure ringing in her head, Tilda Swinton (the first non-Thai actor he has cast) wanders a Medellín as alien in its familiarity as Milan was to Jeanne Moreau in La Notte.Continue reading “Remembrances of things past: ‘Memoria’”

Twelve ways of thinking about ‘Drive My Car’

As Drive My Car approached its third hour, I banished the thought of a conventional review. The second of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s two 2022 films juggles characters and tones. It’s an exciting movie. I understand the enthusiasm. 1. A startling thing happened fifteen minutes before the end credits of Drive My Car: characters in masks appearContinue reading “Twelve ways of thinking about ‘Drive My Car’”

‘Prayers for the Stolen’ indicts a system

The casualness with which the inhabitants of a Mexican village accept violence is the most chilling conclusion to draw from Prayers for the Stolen. If it’s not a local cartel (often unseen, a shrewd decision) extorting them into picking poppies for heroin, it’d federales burning their livelihood — or are they? They could be inContinue reading “‘Prayers for the Stolen’ indicts a system”

In ‘Parallel Mothers,’ Pedro Almodóvar reckons with Francoism

Francisco Franco and baby swapping — the latter sounds like the sort of thing audiences would expect from a Pedro Almodóvar movie, the former not so much. Quoted early in his career for saying his movies pretend the dictator never existed (“I have to confess, I sort of forgot about my political leanings and dedicatedContinue reading “In ‘Parallel Mothers,’ Pedro Almodóvar reckons with Francoism”

Cool character study ‘The Lost Daughter’ works best in the present tense

When Leda admits late in the film, “I’m an unnatural mother,’” you might want to shout back, “Duh.” Vacationing on a Greek island, this noted Yeats translator (the name should ring bells) played by Olivia Colman asks guests questions and flashes a semi-warm smile, but when someone insists on a conversation she shuts as tightlyContinue reading “Cool character study ‘The Lost Daughter’ works best in the present tense”

Lightness of being: ‘The Worst Person in the World’

A devotee of pleasure but devoid of caprice because she takes pleasure seriously, Julie is imbued with the lightness of being. It gets her in trouble with serious boyfriends, who don’t know what to make of her, and older people, who look at her as if she dances on tables. The audience’s acquaintance begins inContinue reading “Lightness of being: ‘The Worst Person in the World’”