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by Stuart Henderson

15 Sep 2011


THE KID WITH A BIKE
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes
Cast: Cecile de France, Thomas Doret, Jeremie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Egon Di Mateo
Country: Belgium / France / Italy

This quiet little tour de force about a troubled young boy has bewitched the critics at this year’s Festival. It is one of those movies one overhears talk of while in line for a screening, the critic using words like “classic” and “masterpiece” and “genius”. Recalling such top-shelfers as 400 Blows with its unflinching but nuanced treatment of childhood psychology and emotional distress, The Kid With a Bike portrays a world that feels eminently lived in, and true to the messiness of experience.

by Stuart Henderson

15 Sep 2011


TAKE THIS WALTZ
Director: Sarah Polley
Cast: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman
Country: Canada

Margot (Michelle Williams) is happily married to a funny, warm, and all-around good man (Seth Rogan). But, she is also falling in love with the dark, mysterious bohemian painter (Luke Kirby) who lives across the street. Sarah Polley’s sophomore film asks of its audience a tricky question: Can you empathize with Margot or not? If you do, Margot’s two hours of agonizing over the decision to leave her husband or not will feel powerfully affecting and gorgeously realised. But, if you decide early on—as many in the press and industry audience around me did—that Margot is a fickle and selfish fool, you are in for a long slog. Happily, I found myself in the former camp, and was able to settle in for what is a heartbreaking, sexy, and witty ride through the fun house of emotional turmoil.

by Stuart Henderson

14 Sep 2011


PEARL JAM TWENTY
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Eddie Vedder, Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, Neil Young
Country: USA
 
Documentaries made by non-documentarians can be exhilarating since, new to the form, the filmmakers tend to break old rules and push into interesting territory. But they can also wind up looking something like Pearl Jam Twenty. Confusing (even to this follower of the group), scattered, and unaccountably incomplete (one longtime member of the band is never even mentioned aloud!), this one is for fans only.

by Stuart Henderson

14 Sep 2011


THE IDES OF MARCH
Director: George Clooney
Cast: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood
Country: USA

This dark, angry movie wants to be a smart, keep-you-guessing political thriller but winds up a wildly improbable and deeply cynical melodrama. Offering no clear villain to despise and almost no payoff to reward the audience, the picture is admirably reminiscent of such Nixon-era political disillusion-fests as The Candidate or All the President’s Men. But, unlike those mostly clever films (which were complicated enough to feel realistic), this one is almost incredibly straightforward.

by Stuart Henderson

14 Sep 2011


MELANCHOLIA
Director: Lars von Trier
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling
Country: Denmark / Sweden / France / Germany

“The earth is evil. We don’t need to grieve for it.” So declares a luminous Kirsten Dunst in Danish provocateur Lars von Trier’s best and most powerful film yet. In this dreamy meditation on depression—how it afflicts the sufferer, how it hurts those closest to them, and how little one can do to stop it once it comes sweeping toward you—we follow a pair of sisters as they hunker down on their palatial estate to await the end of the world.

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