October 29, 2009 |
If every film you see, even every independent or foreign-language film, reminds you of the one you saw the week before, it's time to check out "The Maid." This completely unexpected feature, made in Chile by young director SebastiÃ¡n Silva and featuring a spectacular performance by actress Catalina Saavedra, has that particular gift of leaving you off balance in the best possible way. Already a winner of two key awards at Sundance and the only foreign-language film to be one of five best picture nominees at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, this is one to savor.
October 16, 2009 |
Top prize winners from the Cannes and Berlin film festivals are among 65 movies competing for the foreign-language honor at the Academy Awards next March. Oscar contenders include Germany's "The White Ribbon," director Michael Haneke's sober drama that won the main prize at May's Cannes festival. Set on the eve of World War I, the film explores the collective guilt of a small town besieged by strange acts of violence. The top winner at February's Berlin festival, Claudia Llosa's "The Milk of Sorrow," is Peru's entry for the foreign-language Oscar.
August 13, 2009 |
A powerfully told, devastating film, directed by Max Farberbock (who did the excellent "Aimee & Jaguar") and starring German actress of the moment Nina Hoss, this is everything you want in adult narrative cinema: It's intelligent, provocative and intensely dramatic. Its subject matter, however, is so taboo that it caused a scandal in Germany that lasted nearly half a century. That would be the period of postwar Soviet occupation of a half-deserted Berlin that resulted in what historians estimate was 100,000 rapes.
June 11, 2009 |
French director Olivier Assayas' luminous "Summer Hours," a family drama with a larger point, has caught on with audiences nationwide in a major way. The story of what happens between siblings when a significant family house must be disposed of, "Summer Hours' " issues turn out to be global as well as personal.
June 4, 2009 |
Though you can almost smell the wisteria blooms, don't let the heavenly French country home and the lovely family gathered for lunch in the garden lull you into thinking that "Summer Hours" offers an escape from life's tougher realities. Rather, writer-director Olivier Assayas' finely wrought film uses the bucolic landscape to sow the first seeds of what will become more of a death-and-taxes discussion.
May 12, 2009 |
Swedish filmmaker Jan Troell is a remarkable visualist. His latest, "Everlasting Moments," came out this spring, and like most foreign films, was briefly in a handful of local theaters. This film was meant for the big screen with its audience immersed in darkness, where the images, so beautifully framed, come to life in the darkness. Here's how I saw it: at home watching on a 35-inch Sony at 8:30 on a foggy Saturday morning that soon turned sun-soaked, reflecting off the screen.