About Elly (Asghar Farhadi, 2009). I loved A Separation and The Past, the films Farhadi wrote and directed after About Elly, so my expectations were high. It didn’t quite reach the heights of those other films, but that’s not a dismissal, just a way of noting how great the others are. It suggests L’Avventura, if the characters in that movie actually cared about other people. When a key character disappears, you think you’ll see how “regular” people react to the unexpected loss of a friend. But Farhadi has a way of getting inside his characters, exposing them, helping us understand them even when they are acting poorly. To some extent, About Elly, like the Antonioni film, is less “about Elly” and more about the people who are left behind. What makes About Elly different is that we never lose track of Elly as a character ... she remains important, not just as something to thrust the narrative forward only to be gradually ignored, but as a real person. Antonioni’s movie is ironically titled ... the “adventure” isn’t really what the movie is about. About Elly, on the other hand, shows its hand in the title, without irony. #749 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century. 8/10.
Captain America: Civil War (Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, 2016). This should really have its own post under “By Request”, since my wife wanted to go see it. But I’m behind on both my movie watching and my movie writing, so it will end up here, instead. This movie could have come out twenty years ago, for all the influence my opinion will have. Not that I have any influence, but Captain America: Civil War has been out for less than a month, and it has already grossed more than $1.1 Billion worldwide. These movies aren’t fool-proof, and it’s true that Civil War is a very good film of its type, but those people who spent that billion dollars don’t need me to tell them that. I don’t have a lot of knowledge when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe ... it’s a sign of the importance Marvel has convinced us resides in its concept that I feel obliged to list the things I have seen (to be honest, I might have seen a couple of others ... these are the ones I remember): the movies Iron Man, The Avengers, Ant-Man, and now Captain America: Civil War, and the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, and Jessica Jones. I like the movies I’ve seen without feeling like watching them a second time, while I’ve invested lots of time in those TV series, if only because there are so many episodes. For what it’s worth, my favorite MCU character is Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, and even that isn’t enough to get me to watch the first Captain America movie, in which she plays a big part. Civil War was as good as the other movies I’ve seen, entertaining for most of its 2 1/2-hour running time, with some good acting from Robert Downey Jr., and an examination of the implications of superheroes that was good to see, if not nearly as important as the cool fight scenes. As I say, this can’t serve as a consumer guide ... one billion dollars makes light of such an idea ... but, as I did with the other MCU films I’ve watched, I’m saying 7/10.