Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Crisp Criticism: "Roma", "Leave No Trace", "Zama", "The Guilty", "The Wife", "Western"

Julien Faddoul

Roma **

A year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s, seen from the perspective of their mild-mannered domestic.
Quiet, vivid, episodic Fellini-esque reminiscence of a time gone-by and all the self-indulgence that goes with that. Fascinating on a moment-to-moment basis, its lack of an arresting narrative is trumpeted by imposing mise-en-scène. Due to knee-jerk reactions from critics, it is a film with much to answer for, but as a piece of filmmaking it’s spotless rather than flawless.

w/d/ph – Alfonso Cuarón
pd – Eugenio Caballero
ed – Alfonso Cuarón, Adam Gough
cos – Anna Terrazas

p – Nicolás Celis, Alfonso Cuarón, Gabriela Rodriguez

Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Nancy García García, Verónica García, Andy Cortés, Fernando Grediaga, Jorge Antonio Guerrero, José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza, Latin Lover, Zarela Lizbeth Chinolla Arellano, José Luis López Gómez

Leave No Trace **

A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, until they are forced out.
Emotionally engrossing, well written and acted father-daughter drama of a not-particularly-unfamiliar kind. Interestingly, Granik eschews politicking at every opportunity, wisely focusing instead on human connections.

d – Debra Granik
w – Debra Granik, Anne Rosselini   (Based on the Novel by Peter Rock)
ph – Michel McDonough
pd – Chad Keith
m – Dickon Hinchliffe
ed – Jane Rizzo
cos – Erin Aldridge Orr

p – Anne Harrison, Linda Reisman, Anne Rosellini

Cast: Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey, Dana Millican

The Wife *

A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
An opportunity for Close to play with something outside her regular register. But this is utterly anaemic as cinema, with borderline inept camerawork and staging.

d – Björn Runge
w – Jane Anderson   (Based on the Novel by Meg Wolitzer)
ph – Ulf Brantås
pd – Mark Leese
m – Jocelyn Pook
ed – Lena Dahlberg
cos – Trisha Biggar

p – Claudia Bluemhuber, Peter Gustafsson, Rosalie Swedlin, Meta Louise Foldager Sørensen, Piers Tempest

Cast: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Annie Starke, Harry Lloyd, Elizabeth McGovern, Alix Wilton, Regan Karin, Franz Körlof, Michael Benz

Zama **

Don Diego de Zama, a Spanish officer of the 17th century settled in Asunción, awaits his transfer to Buenos Aires.
Filmmaking refined to such a point where only metaphors remain, which can be read mostly in the landscape, presented here in Herzogian dreamlike fashion. Martel’s compositional (and auditory) mastery seems infinite, but it’s odd that she would choose what is essentially a plot-driven literary adaptation for a deliberately opaque, sensory experience and not dispense with the plot.

wd – Lucrecia Martel   (Based on the Novel by Antonio Di Benedetto)
ph – Rui Poças
ad – Renata Pinheiro
ed – Karen Harley, Miguel Schverdfinger
cos – Julio Suárez

p – Vânia Catani, Benjamín Doménech, Santiago Gallelli, Matias Roveda

Cast: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Lola Dueñas, Matheus Nachtergaele, Juan Minujín, Rafael Spregelburd, Daniel Veronese, Carlos Defeo, Mariana Nunes, Nahuel Cano

The Guilty **

A police officer assigned alarm dispatch duty enters a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman.
Highly effective thriller, all set in a single office space, that relies solely on the audio of the phone calls and Cedergren’s performance. Visually, it’s fairly unremarkable, but a great deal of fun is had in audience manipulation, with every noise and rumple tinged with the utmost significance.

d – Gustav Möller
w – Gustav Möller, Emil Nygaard Albertsen
ph – Jasper J. Spanning
pd – Gustav Pontoppidan
m – Carl Coleman, Caspar Hesselager
ed – Carla Luffe

p – Lina Flint

Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi, Johan Olsen, Katinka Evers-Jahnsen, Jeanette Lindbæk

Western **

A group of German construction workers set out for a foreign construction site in the Bulgarian province. For two of the men, a nearby village becomes the stage for a competition for the recognition and favor of the village.
The frustrating and all-too-common case of a great film hiding inside a good one; interesting dissections of intra-European relations; it attempts to broaden allegorically on its titular genre, but the whole thing is far too emotionally remote.

wd – Valeska Grisebach
ph – Bernhard Keller
pd – Beatrice Schultz
ed – Bettina Böhler
cos – Veronika Albert

p – Maren Ade, Jonas Dornbach, Valeska Grisebach, Janine Jackowski, Michel Merkt

Cast: Meinhard Neumann, Reinhardt Wetrek, Syuleyman Alilov Letifo, Veneta Frangipova, Viara Borisova, Detlef Schaich, Waldemar Zang

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