Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sweet Darlin'

More reviews for the newsletter:

Lars and the Real Girl (2007) is pitch-perfect parable of humanity's potential for compassion. It is about a man and his 'love doll', whom he imagines to be real, and the town that embraces them both. The subject matter may seem inherently goofy, but the film is sweet and smartly funny. It's a feel-good movie-- however, every scene that could play out as sappy or cloying or a cheap laugh in any other film pulls back at just the right time. Extraordinarily scripted and cast. Standout performances by Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, and Paul Schneider as the Lindstrom family: Lars, his sister-in-law and his guilt-ridden brother, respectively. The family dynamic, especially with Bianca (the doll) in the mix is priceless. Perhaps the only misstep is that the studio released this film on the same date as Juno, whose Oscar-fueled marketing team will crush this gem like a bug.

I really loved Lars and the Real Girl. Schneider and Mortimer are fantastic. Maybe I was just touched by how un-jaded this movie is. It was full of some of the healthiest relationships I've seen onscreen in a long time. I also watched it right after I watched Time, which was similarly populated by characters whose loneliness drove them to act strangely. But they become less lovable in their desperation and completely estranged from society. Lars becomes eminently more lovable and integral to his community. I think Lars may be my pick for feel good movie of the year.

Time (2006, South Korea, subtitled) Tackling ideas of love, identity, and -yes- madness, Time is a drama about an insecure woman who, in an effort to keep her relationship alive, opts to get radical plastic surgery and become someone 'new' for her lover. The romance between the two leads is a little difficult to grasp since Ji-woo and Seh-hee are incredibly unhappy together and he just seems baffled by her weird behavior. Their love, instead, is represented onscreen by a giant sculpture of two intertwined hands making a staircase that the lovers visit from time to time. While jealousy, screaming matches and elective surgery spin the story to wildly melodramatic heights, writer-director Kim Ki-Duk keeps the visuals tightly controlled. His films are notable for their beautiful and thoughtful visual composition, and Time is no exception. Kim Ki-Duk is an extremely prolific Korean writer-director, and having seen several of his other films, it is hard not to compare Time to his other features. Time follows a similar cyclical pattern to my favorite (thus far) of his films Bad Guy (2001). He is also known for Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003).

Since this is a rich theme that is incredibly well done in a few films, I've compiled a short-list of films featuring people literally cutting off their faces and putting on new ones (usually, previously owned faces): The Face of Another (1966, Japan), Eyes Without a Face (1960, France)-- a classic!, Seconds (1966) Rock Hudson is great-- dir. Frankenheimer, Faceless (1988) by cult director Jess Franco, Face/Off (1997) John Woo is over-the-top.


Blogger 1minutefilmreview said...

Nice reviews, we love Kim too.

4/17/2008 4:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad you are back.

4/21/2008 2:31 PM  
Anonymous patrick said...

just saw Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling did a great job playing out his character's psychological transition from totally dysfunctional to somewhat functional

4/24/2008 12:40 PM  

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