Well, here I am back at home. I didn't have time to put up anything as I had screenings and a planeflight, and now that I'm home, I'm still pooped and haven't been able to do anything except get out of bed, unpack and turn on the TV, there's going to be a few more batches in the next day or two and then I"m done. The early press screening have started in Miami and I'm not there, which is pretty good as I don't think I would have the energy to go. The thing starts in about a month or so, just around my 49th birthday...in the meantime, here are some reviews I wrote at the airport before leaving Utah....
NEIL YOUNG HEART OF GOLD / U.S.A.
Concert films are concert films. They are pretty much all the same. Sure, some are badly shot, and some have lousy music, but if a director and cinematographer are at least halfway decent, and the music is good, then you’d have a good time, that is if you like the musician.
So you have a few brief interviews with Emmylou Harris and a few of the background singers before we head over to the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee where we see and hear rock icon Neil Young do his legendary stuff.
Shot over two nights we’ve got the best of the concerts, and the music is all it’s advertised to be. If you like Neal Young, you have to see this. There is no choice.
THE ILLUSIONIST / U.S.A.
Written and Directed
by Neil Burger
Before we start, lets discuss the MPAA’s rating system. For the most part the G-rating means that this is kiddy stuff. But what if you have a film that’s for adults and doesn’t have any swearing, nudity, and has a minimum of blood. Should it be rated G? Would it mean that many people would stay away because they think it too immature for their tastes? Let’s hope that this gets a PG, so that won’t happen, for this may be the best “family film” not targeting little kids in many a year.
This is a fairy tale in 19th century drag. It’s the tale of a young peasant boy who falls in love with a princess, only to have the adolescent romance forcibly ended by the authorities. Our hero goes away on a long journey lasting years, only to return as Eisenheim the Illusionist(Edward Norton), the greatest magician of his time. His feats of prestidigitation are so profound, people think that he really has super powers.
Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) knows that it isn’t the case, but he recognizes his talent and soon a relationship of sorts begins. Also Austria-Hungary’s Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) brings his fiancée Princess Sophie (Jessica Biel) along, and we know immediately, that these are the young adolescent lovers from the prologue. The conflict is set, for the Crown Prince is up to no good, and the Chief Inspector and the Princess know this all to well. The romance in rekindled and there is murder offstage and philosophy and special effects on.
One of the things that annoys me is that Sewell is typecast as evil princes. He hasn’t actually done anything else since “Dark City” a number of years back. Oh, he’s really good here, and he’s got some fine scenes but is might be nice to see him in something slightly different. Ed Norton is in Oscar® territory here and so is Giamatti. The special effects are understates and spectacular at the same time. This is the kind of thing for which they invented the movies in the first place for. When Esenheim does is act, we are mesmerized by the artistry of it all, rarely has the act of a stage magician seemed so magical.
This may be the first in the list for Best Picture nominees for next year. See it.
Written and Directed
by Fabian Bielinsky
The Aura is that moment just before the epileptic fit takes hold of it's victim. Consciousness and perception change markedly before he or she passes out. This is what happens frequently to a pacifist taxidermist named Espinoza(Ricardo Darin) who works with corpses but cannot stand the sight of blood.
Invited by a colleague(Alejandro Awada) to go on a hunting trip after his wife leaves him, our hero accidentally shoots another hunte(Manuel Rodalr), who just happens to be the lodge he's staying in. One thing leads to another, and soon our hero is involved with not only the victim's much younger wife Diana (Dolores Fonzi), but her brother Julio(Nahuel Perez Biscayart) and her husband’s accomplices(Pablo Cedrón and Jorge D'Elia) in a plot to rob a casino.
This is just the thing our hero, who wants to be a master criminal when he grows up, has been waiting all his life for. This is a really cool film. Bielinsky is Argentina’s best director at the moment, and his “Nine Q ueens” was one of those gems that is soo much better before it gets remade by Hollywood. Darin is a revelation as an actor, being brilliant and pathetic all at once. There’s lots of suspense here, and the ending is actually perversely satisfying. See it.