Thursday, November 30, 2006

Film round-up

The Prestige: great performances from Bale, Jackman, Caine, and Bowie (as Nikolai Tesla!), shot gorgeously, a bit long, and a bit too clever-clever for its own good. B+

The Departed: simply the best film I've yet seen of 2006, and possibly Scorcese's finest work since Raging Bull. Searing perfs (especially DiCaprio, Damon, and Wahlberg - oh, and did you hear that a guy named Nicholson's in it?), crackling script - fuckin' A, it's Scorcese doing a gangster movie again. If that's not enough for you, nothing will be. A+

Borat: not the funniest film ever, maybe not even of this year (though I can't think of what beats it), but it's extremely funny nonetheless. Sacha Baron Cohen goes there and just keeps going, for which I give him a lot of credit. If you wait for DVD, you won't miss much of anything, but do see it at some point, unless you have no tolerance for filthy (and I mean filthy) language. This film earns its "R" rating. A-

Little Children: these autumn films are all about performances, aren't they? Winslet is superb, but I found Patrick Wilson even better (and OHMYGOD that's a beautiful ass) and Jackie Earl Haley the best. Haley, particularly, deserves an Oscar nomination for his work. The direction can be a bit off-putting, but I respect Todd Field for having a very clear vision and sticking to it. A-

Marie Antoinette: I keep coming back to this one in my head, and it seems better each time. Visually lush, all popping colors and jaw-dropping set pieces (filming at Versailles helps), but with very good acting - Kirsten Dunst is perfectly cast as the teenage queen - and sure direction. Not a masterpiece, but better than you may have been led to believe. It's surprisingly sad, too. (Oh, and Coppola's use of anachroistic music works a charm, mainly because it fits these characters [cf. "Hong Kong Garden"]. The soundtrack, which needs all of its two discs, is superb.) See this on a big screen if at all possible, though if you require lots of plot, maybe not so much. B+ - but one I'm going to cherish for some time.

Still to be seen: The Queen, Babel, The History Boys, Volver.

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