Fall 2010 Bayou Film Series
In the Loop (2009)
Armando Iannucci, United Kingdom, 106 min. Not Rated.
Often compared to Wag the Dog, this Oscar-nominated hit (based on popular BBC series The Thick of It) gets its headlong comic energy from the joined-at-the-hip performances of Peter Capaldi as Downing Street’s rabid political enforcer and Tom Hollander (who played a meany in Pirates of the Caribbean) as a sad-sack Minister for International Development who slips into the world media spotlight as if he’d just stepped on a banana peel. There are also excellent, endearing roles for Anna Chlumsky (remember My Girl?) and the superb Gina McKee.
A Prophet (2009)
Jacques Audiard, France, 149 min. Rated R.
Nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, this tense drama by the director of The Beat My Heart Skipped is “a stunning portrait of an innately smart survivor for whom prison turns out to be a twisted opportunity for self-definition” (Lisa Schwarzbaum). Audiard follows an Arab teenager who is sentenced to six years in a French prison. Small, friendless, and unimposing, Malik becomes tough and savvy as he completes a series of daunting tasks assigned by the leader of the Corsican gang. Eventually, however, Malik thinks about using his abilities to challenge his crime bosses.
The White Ribbon (2009)
Michael Haneke, Austria/Germany/France/Italy, 144 min. Rated R.
Nominated for Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography Academy Awards and winner of three major awards at Cannes, Das weisse Band (the title refers to white ribbons children are made to wear to assert their “purity”) presents an enigmatic story of brutal crimes occurring in an Austrian village just before World War I. Shot in formidably beautiful black and white, the film is a meditation on good and evil, and on the ways in which a horrible ideology may emerge through a society’s treatment of its children.
The Cove The Cove (2009)
Louie Psihovos, USA, 92 min.
This suspenseful Oscar-winning documentary follows a group of animal rights activists, led by the former animal trainer of the TV show Flipper, as they try to secretly film the slaughter of dolphins in a heavily guarded scenic cove in Taijii, Japan. The film gives audiences an exciting behind-the-scenes perspective of filmmakers using guile, daring, and technology to obtain disturbing footage of environmental crimes.
Sleep Dealer (2008)
Alex Rivera, USA/Mexico, 90 min. Rated PG-13.
A refreshingly human-based sci-fi that manages to deal with El Norte’s southern border from the perspective of the workers whose lives are most affected by U.S. demand for cheap labor. The film does this on its modest budget largely through a subtle, intelligent plot and sensitive performances from Jacob Vargas and Leonor Varela (who single-handedly made Blade II worth watching). This film is a real sleeper — it won both a screenwriting award and the Sloan Feature Film Award at Sundance and the Amnesty International Film Prize for 2008.
Terribly Happy (2008)
Henrik Ruben Genz, Denmark, 90 min. Not Rated.
Frygtelig lykkelig has won awards all over the world in practically every category, because it does for the police procedural what Let the Right One In, Slim Susie, and Dead Snow did for their respective genres: i.e., load it up (definitely not down) with Scandinavian quirks, foibles, “characters,” landscapes, and humorous-grim atmosphere to beat the band. In this one a cop with a bad past winds up banished to the hinterlands so he can pull himself together. Instead he winds up in the middle of a set of murders/missing persons/romantic entanglements that baffle him (and sometimes us).
Halloween Double Feature
Dead Snow (Tommy Wirkola, Norway, 2009, 91 min.) and Pontypool (dir. Bruce McDonald, Canada, 2008, 95 min.). Both films Not Rated.
Zombies are the subject of this year’s un-lively Halloween double feature. In Dead Snow, a horde of zombie Nazis arise out of the snow to attack a group of Norwegian medical students vacationing in a remote mountain forest. Time to arm the snowmobile! In Pontypool, a radio shock jock and his coworkers trapped in an Ontario radio station slowly realize that the virus that is turning the population of small town Pontypool into zombies seems to spread via the English language and that their calls for help may be turning Canada into Zombieland.
35 Shots of Rum [35 Rhums] (2009)
Clair Denis, France/Germany, 100 min. Rated PG.
This quietly emotional slice-of-life drama is a rare examination of the lives of blacks in France. A widower train driver, Lionel, and his grown daughter, Sophie, must adjust to changes in their close relationship as other loves and friends enter and leave their lives. As critic Ian Buckwalter writes, “Denis sees human interactions with an uncommon clarity of vision. Her great talent, as evident as ever in this, one of her greatest films, is her ability to allow an audience to see those relationships in the same quietly revelatory way she does.”
Police, Adjective (2009)
Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania, 113 min.
The latest piece of fascinating film-making out of the Romanian New Wave is a “low boiling but addictive story about a young detective who’s begun to question the justice of the drug laws he’s enforcing” (J. R. Jones). Working undercover, cop Cristi finds that the pot dealer he is investigating through the decrepit streets of Vaslui is just a teenager who likes to get high with his friends, but Cristi only angers his boss when he refuses to arrest the boy. Porumboiu’s tense crime thriller is also a complex exploration of urban life in Romania.
Tony Manero (2008)
Pablo Larrain, Chile/Brazil, 97 min.
Not Rated, but contains brief but explicit sex scenes. A suggestive political allegory featuring a frightening starring performance by Alfredo Castro, this film treats a week in the life of a psychopath—an emotionally flatlined brute whose existence revolves around his fantastic identification with Tony Manero, the character played by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Set in 1978, at the height of Augusto Pinochet’s oppressive dictatorship, the film explores a variety of “escapes”— into pop culture, into sex, into crime — that darkly mirror the themes of Saturday Night Fever itself: remember how wonderful it felt to lose oneself in the dancing? Please note: this film is not rated, but we feel strongly that it is unsuitable for children.