PEARL JAM TWENTY
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Eddie Vedder, Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, Neil Young
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.
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PEARL JAM TWENTY
THE IDES OF MARCH
Director: George Clooney
Cast: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood
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.
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.
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Expect Brad Pitt to get some award season attention for his playful portrayal of real life Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, a man trying to find a way to win a game with a stacked deck. Back in 2001, with among the smallest budgets in major league baseball, and following the advice of a rookie Assistant-GM (here played by a perfectly deadpan Jonah Hill), Beane threw out the rulebook, fired his head scout, and fielded a team based upon a theory about on-base percentage. And despite the collective disbelief and disdain of the sporting world, it worked.
WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
Director: Nadine Labaki
Cast: Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Layla Hakim, Nadine Labaki, Antoinette Noufaily, Yvonne Maalouf
Country: France / Lebanon / Italy / Egypt
An enchanting, brilliant, and heartbreaking film about civil war and its indelible legacy, this Lebanese masterwork utterly slayed me. By turns romantic, funny, wrenching, and playful, Labaki’s film plays like a legend (it is basically a re-telling of Lysistrata) but has all the immediacy of real life. A tiny village is cut off from the surrounding countryside by a blown out bridge, and there is little radio or TV reception to speak of. Half of the inhabitants are Muslim, half are Christian. All have finally put aside their differences and are breaking bread together, but there is always the spectre of sectarianism creeping around them.