Yes, the weekly movie post is back, after a couple of weeks off while I was in Hawaii. The only movie I watched during that time was 2/3 of Killers from Space with Peter Graves, which I watched on my cell phone during the flight home. I also watched Season One of Battlestar Galactica again. Now, the real movies return.
Incendies (Denis Villenueve, 2010). Complicated, slow-moving drama that feels a bit like Hitchcock without all the shtick. The basic plot, about twins learning about their mother’s past, propels the movie, but it’s the individual scenes, and the growing sense of discovery, that makes Incendies special. The acting by female leads Lubna Azabal and Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin adds immensely to the film’s power. The ending doesn’t make a lot of sense on a logical scale, but it delivers an honest emotional punch just the same. There’s an overarching theme, something about breaking the chains of anger, that didn’t do much for me, but your mileage might vary in that regard. Nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar last year, and it’s the best of the three that I’ve seen. 8/10.
Smoke (Wayne Wang, 1995). Phil Dellio had this at #45 on his Facebook list, and I finally caught up with it. A cast of well-known film stars (Harvey Keitel, William Hurt, Stockard Channing, Forest Whitaker, Ashley Judd) and semi-known television regulars (Giancarlo Esposito, Jared Harris, Harold Perrineau, Malik Yoba) fit perfectly into Wayne Wang’s low-key approach. Paul Auster seems to have done more than just his credited work as writer, and it’s not always easy to tell what is improvised and what is not. Phil hit the nail on the head when he noted that Smoke is the kind of art film that would have gotten a lot of attention if it arrived in the States with subtitles. The characters all have multiple levels, and not everyone’s secrets are bad ones. 8/10.