Notes on this Fall’s picks
Very interesting biopic of a lesser-known character, more famous for his ‘deadly toy’ than his biography, which is instead full of strange facts. Who would say that the father of the atomic bomb was a communist sympathizer who would fall from governmental grace after helping his country win WWII? Alas, as usual, Nolan’s direction makes it all confusing because of his mania of time-shifting, intermingled sequences, different narrative levels and so on. All very post-modern, but the guy makes me angry: his technicalities overshadow the content and the spectator is often taken for a ride.
A very intriguing psychothriller, about a suspicious death whose only reliable witness happens to be blind. This courtroom drama murder mystery, with its ambiguous title and ambiguous dénouement, reminded me of Billy Wilder’s Agatha Christie adaptation Witness for the Prosecution. The courtroom procedural is a device to investigate the toxic relationship between husband and wife, their dreams, their actual life, their dissatisfaction and frustrations and their underlying love/hate tie. The picture of a tainted relation that comes out at the end is not very original and the movie is a bit too long, but worth seeing anyway.
Napoleonic battles are so beautiful. Like vast, lethal ballets… they all have an aesthetic brilliance that doesn’t require a military mind to appreciate” said Stanley Kubrick, who had long had the ambition of directing a film exploring the life of the Corsican-born artillery officer who became the emperor of France. Kubrick, in the late 1960s, was forced to abandon the project. Ridley Scott turned into stunning visual Kubrick’s fascination in this biopic that is as historically precarious as Hollywood has always shown us. Even if J. Phoenix is a top actor, his Napoleon rarely comes to life. Sometimes tough guy and sometimes childish dude, sometimes commander-in-chief and sometimes jealous guy, Napoleon’s grandeur remains unveiled in this long epic.
My name is Maureen Kearney. I didn’t lie. I didn’t make anything up.” This French drama about a blood-boiling real-life case of injustice is the story of whistleblower and rape survivor Maureen Kearney, who for four years lived with a criminal record: falsely convicted of wasting police time, accused of inventing her rape. It’s a political thriller that tells the story matter-of-factly, and is perhaps a little lacking in the pace department. But Isabelle Huppert carries it along with a performance every bit as gripping as you’d expect The Guardian).
Probably one of the best Woody Allen films of recent years. All of Woody’s themes are there, in this comedy which soon turns into a murder thriller: the unhappiness of a sensible wife with her fake life of luxury and a murderous dirty business husband, the down-and-out expatriate fascinating writer, love and betrayal, the Paris of dreams, and, obviously, Allen’s humour and grace. Not the same movie over again this time.