Stanley Kauffmann on Films: French Accents
May 04, 2012
Goodbye First Love Elles Monsieur Lazhar First love, a term that often has a touch of the patronizing, is a moving truth in a new French film called Goodbye First Love. The writer-director, Mia Hansen-Løve, whose third feature this is, has addressed her subject with complete emotional confidence. She knows how it is often “understood” and disprized; she also wants us to see some aftereffects. Camille is a fifteen-year-old student in Paris when we first see her—nude, as her beloved boyfriend, the nineteen-year-old Sullivan, pulls the covers off her.
There is a passage in Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby in which David Huxley (Cary Grant) and Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) are lost at night in the forest of Connecticut searching for a leopard called Baby and a fox terrier named George. If you don’t know the picture, don’t bother to ask, “Why a leopard?” Your every instinct is correct—there are (and should be) no leopards in Connecticut. Yet there might have been. We know now that the ingenious German plan to have a U-boat unload a cargo of fierce cats on that state’s shore in 1942 was aborted only at the last moment.
David Thomson on Films: How ‘The Godfather’ Was Diminished By Its State-of-the-Art Restoration
April 24, 2012
For strange one-day-only engagements, a few Cinemark theaters across the country have been playing a “restored” version of The Godfather Part II (1974). This is a follow-up to the same remarketing of the first film, The Godfather (1972), and Cinemark is proud (if premature) about this “Fortieth Anniversary Edition.” One reason for barely noticing the celebration is that the lucky theatres are so rare. Another is that the Godfather films have not disappeared. They are on television on some channel nearly every week, just because audiences love to see them over and over again.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Devotions
April 20, 2012
Gerhard Richter Painting We Have a Pope Jiro Dreams of Sushi Only a few months after a German documentary about a famous artist, Anselm Kiefer, here is another from Germany about a famous artist. Gerhard Richter Painting is, like the earlier film, a kind of residence with its subject rather than a report. Corinna Belz, the director, in fact spent three years off and on with Richter, with his beginnings of works, his changes, his resumptions, his conclusions. She had made an earlier short film about Richter, and evidently she had his full confidence.
This is a review of Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet, and the calendar pretext is that the movie will play at the San Francisco Film Festival on April 24 and 27. Not all of you will be able to get to the Bay Area, but, since last August, The Loneliest Planet has already played at the festivals of Locarno, Toronto, New York, London and the AFI. Still, it has not “opened” yet. That is promised for this August, albeit on a limited basis. What does limited mean? Well, Loktev and the rest of us might bear in mind what happened with her previous film, her first, Day Night Day Night.
The Hollywood Western, as a genre, is a realm of fantasy. Once Upon a Time in the West is, in its pseudo-realistic way a fantasy superimposed on that general fantasy. Sergio Leone is the best-known of the European makers of Westerns that we’ve been getting lately, mostly from Italy. I haven’t seen his previous films, but veteran Leonists tell me that this new one is like them, only very much more so.
On Thursday, April 5, I saw the best movie I have seen so far this year. It was only 74 seconds long. That seems quick, yet it felt stealthy and suspenseful as it traveled through time. For the show was the story of a life, or 25 years of it. That is Lindsay Lohan’s age now, and her future is more precarious than 25 usually promises. I watched it first in the early morning of the fifth on Yahoo.
What does “deep blue” mean in this film, or in the Terence Rattigan play that has prompted a movie from Terrence Davies sixty years later? Deep blue is no small matter; it’s not just Miles Davis doing “Kind of Blue,” William Gass’s book On Being Blue, a nickname for IBM, or Lucian Freud’s painting, “Man in a Blue Scarf.” Four out of ten people name blue as their favorite color. So I have always wanted more from The Deep Blue Sea than it ever delivers. Rattigan was the leading English playwright during the war and into the early 1950s, before the disruptions of John Osborne and Harold Pinter.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: The Past Today
March 29, 2012
Footnote The Deep Blue Sea This Is Not a Film From Israel comes a film of contrasts. Footnote uses sophisticated style to deal with an ancient subject. Joseph Cedar, the writer-director, tells a story about Talmudic studies and couches it in cinematic brio. This verve also counterpoints the drama. Along with the talk about deep scholarship comes this visual approach that is a kind of modern complement.
David Thomson on Films: Why I Hate ‘The Hunger Games’
March 27, 2012
There are several spoilers in this review of The Hunger Games, and I’ll get them out of the way early. The film shows precious little hunger and no sense of game. It’s a terrible movie, but it grossed $68.25 million on its first Friday. So that’s where your teenage daughters were over the weekend—or what they told you. And that’s why film critics sometimes feel their own futility. I know, or I have heard, that the series of books by Suzanne Collins, of which The Hunger Games was the first, have sold all over the world in amazing numbers since 2008.