Decade: 2000s

Schuss! (2005)

Nicolas Rey’s Schuss! is an experimental essay film that is concerned, ultimately, with the spoils of capitalism. More specifically, it’s about the rise of the aluminum industry, the building of a French ski resort, and the economic interests that joined the two.

Dec 21, 2006
Category: Film, Film Responses

Half Nelson (2006)

It’s rare these days when I find myself identifying with a character in the same way that, say, the 7-year-old version of me identified with Charlie Bucket or the 15-year-old version of me identified with Holden Caulfield. But Dan Dunne, the crack-addicted, idealistic History teacher played by Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson, is more like me than any other character I’ve met in quite some time.

Dec 14, 2006
Category: Film, Film Responses

The Black Dahlia (2006)

I’m nowhere near deciding yet whether or not The Black Dahlia is good, but it’s certainly among the strangest and most fascinating Hollywood films I’ve seen in quite some time.

Oct 2, 2006
Category: Film, Film Responses

Three for Three

Perhaps it’s simply the inevitable result of paring down my schedule from 44 films in 2005 (only 35 of which I actually saw) to “only” 33 this year, but my sense while researching and planning over the past weeks was that TIFF’s lineup is stronger, top to bottom, this time around than in previous years.

Sep 10, 2006
Category: Festivals, Film, Film Responses

Collins and Jost

What most interests me — and what I lack a vocabulary to properly describe — is the direct connection between the form and political content in both of these films. That brief frisson that occurs when the pose drops — when a person who lives in an image-marketed and -mediated culture suddenly finds herself set adrift in the semiological flux — that moment, I think, is an instance of political resistance.

Aug 1, 2006
Category: Film, Film Responses

A Long Way Down (2005)

Kakutani’s reading seems lazy to me. She’s misjudged these folks — not to mention Hornby’s intentions — and is punching herself silly, chasing after her straw men.

Jun 14, 2006
Category: Book Reviews, Words

Birth (2004)

Anna so quickly and so easily falls in love with the young Sean not because he’s a manifestation of her dead husband but because he so effortlessly performs a role that is wholly the work of Anna’s imagination. She has conjured an idealized version of Sean through the magical incantation of her love letters.

Jun 2, 2006
Category: Film, Film Responses

Code Unknown (2000)

“People’s faces are in naked repose down in the subway,” Evans tells us, but why should we believe him? I’m not sure that I do, and Haneke almost certainly doesn’t.

Feb 13, 2006
Category: Film, Film Responses

The Human Stain (2003)

But the adaptation of a written text to film also necessarily foregrounds the authority of images, imposing specificity on what an author might have chosen to describe more generally. I was surprised, for example, to find myself suddenly moved by an image of the small boxes in which Faunia stores the ashes of her dead children. In the novel, surprisingly little emphasis is placed on the ashes; Roth does not make of them an excuse for one of his patented ten-page diversions.

Jan 18, 2006
Category: Film, Film Responses, Words

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Having already proven his deftness with coming-of-age stories, Cuaron (along with screenwriter Steven Kloves) understands that all the sound and fury of big budget spectacle signifies little unless it’s in the service of character, and so, here, the novel’s 400+ pages are neatly trimmed to show a single but significant stage of Harry’s development.

Jan 2, 2006
Category: Film, Film Responses