The Secret in Their Eyes. A movie for grownups … do I sound like a crotchety old fool when I say that? It doesn’t seem to have any special effects (a scene at a soccer match is remarkably filmed, though, and might be helped out a bit by some lab work … on the other hand, there’s a rear-projection shot worthy of Hitchcock late in the film). The plot, which bounces back and forth between 1974 and 1999 or so, requires makeup which, since the actors are not the same age, means that some of them get the tricky makeup in the 1974 scenes and others in the 1999 scene. What is most important, though, is that the actors, all of them excellent, make you believe. A rumination on passion and memory that never stoops to nostalgia, it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film last year. (Giants fans may be thrown off for a bit when a character turns out to be named Pablo Sandoval.) 8/10.
Pierrot le fou. Is it just me, or has Jean-Luc Godard’s reputation taken a big hit since his glory days in the 50s and 60s? It’s not just that critical opinion of his post-60s films was mixed at best … I can’t speak to that, since I haven’t seen anything later than Weekend (1968). No, I’m talking about people reevaluating movies they once loved, and finding them lacking. Roger Ebert is a good example. When Pierrot le fou was first released, Ebert gave it 3 1/2 stars out of 4, saying of Godard that “if he is not the greatest living director he is certainly the most audacious, the most experimental, the one who understands best how movies work.” On the film’s re-release 40 years later, Ebert’s rating had dropped to 2 1/2 out of 4, calling it “the story of silly characters who have seen too many Hollywood movies.” Pierrot le fou gives us an idea of what Bonnie and Clyde might have been like if that film’s producers had followed through on their attempt to get Godard to direct. #92 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 8/10.