Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Crisp Criticism - "Hail, Caesar!", "How to Be Single", "Son of Saul"

Julien Faddoul

Hail, Caesar! ***

A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.
Emblematic and hilarious comedy from its directors, once again accentuating the despairing chaos and meaninglessness of life. Recreations of the cinema of the time are flawless, mashing together musicals, westerns, film noir and even sophisticated comedies of manners. It contains in-jokes that only the extremely seasoned will recognize, witty delineations of ideological politics and one brilliant breakout performance.

wd – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
ph – Roger Deakins
pd – Jess Gonchor
m – Carter Burwell
ed – Roderick Jaynes
cos – Mary Zophres

p – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Alison Pill, Michael Gambon, Verónica Osorio, Emily Beecham, Heather Goldenhersh, Wayne Knight, Max Baker, Christopher Lambert, Fred Melamed, Patrick Fischler, David Krumholtz, Fisher Stevens, Alex Karpovsky, Clancy Brown

How to Be Single

4 women enjoy being single.
Dreary female comedy, performing jokes that all have been done before in better (or not) films.

d – Christian Ditter
w – Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Dana Fox   (Based on the Novel by Liz Tuccillo)
ph – Christian Rein
pd – Steve Saklad
m – Fil Eiseler
ed – Tia Nolan
cos – Leah Katznelson

p – Drew Barrymore, Dana Fox, Nancy Juvonen, John Rickard

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Nicholas Braun, Damon Wayans Jr, Anders Holm, Jake Lacy, Leslie Mann

Son of Saul **

In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a Sonderkommando (prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people) finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.
Formerly immaculate on every visual and aural level: Shot entirely with a 40mm lens, in Academy aspect ratio of 1.375:1, creating a very shallow depth of field, Nemes represents the horrors of Auschwitz as fleeting glimpses of interpretation, as his camera never leaves the head of his main character. Four languages are spoken: Hungarian, German, Polish and Yiddish. Many sequences are so deftly constructed as to be utterly powerful. But there is a major step back in context here, both anecdotally – in depicting what is essentially an A-to-B-to-C thriller, it seeps into tedium (it makes all its points beautifully in its exquisite opening shot) – and morally – it intellectualizes itself so persistently that neither drama nor history take center stage but rather artistic rationalism, which is clearly not what Nemes intended. The problem with all cinematic depictions of Auschwitz is that they all seem to fall toward, whether intended or not, aspirations of being the final word. Therefore, the question that any cinephile must ask themselves is not whether any said depiction of the Shoah, especially that of the Sonderkommando, is the last word on the matter, but whether there should have been any word at all?

d – László Nemes
w – László Nemes, Clara Royer
ph – Mátyás Erdély
pd – László Rajk
m – László Melis
ed – Matthieu Taponier   
cos – Edit Szücs

p – Gábor Rajna, Gábor Sipos

Cast: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont, Jerzy Walczak, Sándor Zsótér, Marcin Czarnik

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