For movie watchers, few things can be more frustrating than films that begin with a sequence of immense promise, only to show over the remainder that the emperor truly wears no clothes. Two new examples come from the horror realm.
Until now, Ethan Hawke was having a wonderful year. Before Midnight, the third leg of his trilogy with director Richard Linklater and actress Julie Delpy, brought waves of critical acclaim and talk of another Oscar nomination for their collaborative screenplay, while The Purge turned a meager investment into a highly profitable box-office take.
Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Most global news surrounding Iran concerns its nuclear capabilities and
its nutjob leader, but fans of international cinema know there is much
more to the Asian republic.
Some of the most exciting and challenging films in the world these days are coming from Iran, so it's no surprise that A Separation, a tense and absorbing domestic drama packed with the suspense of a Hitchcock flick, recently earned the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Opening Friday at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, the movie unfolds like a Rube Goldberg machine powered by human fallibility, in which generally decent and sympathetic people with understandable motivations make choices that have unimaginably bad results.
At the center is an educated and reasonably well-off couple, Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Moadi), seeking a divorce. Simin wants to move abroad with their child, but her husband refuses to leave the country because his aged father has Alzheimer's disease. Neither husband nor wife is willing to bend, and so begins a downward spiral.
Simin, who has been her father-in-law's caregiver, moves out of their apartment, forcing Nader to hire a devout Islamic woman named Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to tend for the old man while Nader is at work. But the job is considerably more than Razieh bargained for — the elderly man soils himself and wanders away from home — and the reluctant nurse decides on an unfortunate course of action that spurs another unfortunate choice, and so on.
Dire consequences mount, and to devastating effect. Writer/director Asghar Farhadi is a master at turning the screws, but he does so straightforwardly and always with an unflinching eye on revealing character. The filmmaker also has the benefit of a solid cast, particularly Moadi and Bayat as people trying to do the right thing within the constraints of their own convictions.
In A Separation, however, principles can be a disastrous thing.