Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Intimate Strangers

A nicely paced (meaning not frenetic) relational drama from France. Anna is a young woman seeking the help of an psychoanalyst. When she takes a right out of the elevator instead of a left, she enters the office of William, a second generation tax attorney and quintessential bachelor/homebody. Before he can bring himself to clarify his position, Anna has divulged some difficulty with her marriage and William is feeling a bit to embarrassed to point out the truth. While the ruse is relatively quickly resolved, Anna continues to use William as her sounding board and the the two are each changed by the encounter. In the end, this is a pleasant film that pulls you along in spite of the occasional speed bump and gives a satisfying resolution that fits the change each character chased.
3 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


In spite of feeling like a "made for TV" special, Arranged was pretty good. Two young women are new teachers in a school and become friends. The hook is that one is an orthodox Jew and the other a conservative Muslim. Both are dealing with their family expectations on marriage and the process for finding a mate. While cheesy and formulaic throughout, mixed in with a bit of stereotypical idealism, it is still interesting to see how young people in any culture deal with the expectations of family and history. The themes remind me a bit of A Devil's Playground and the decisions that are made about embracing a family and deciding to let go.
3 stars (out of 5)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Last Station

There are so many things that I don't know anything about. The Last Station gives us the story of the last year or so of Tolstoy's life. Apparently I don't know much about Tolstoy or Russian history, and I am pretty sure this film does not give a complete representation of Tolstoyan views. But it does seem to hit the highlights. Perhaps the best part of this version of the story is the struggle between Tolstoy and his wife Sofia. They are decades into their marriage and each find it completely different that they expected for different reasons. While they still obviously love each other, they realize that their life values are different. They encounter this realization in the face of beautiful memories of their life journey which had been truly synergistic for many years. In the movies (and in life?) it always seems to come as a surprise when people suddenly recognize that a divergence started long ago. Can people learn to see the small clues along the way? Or are we just too busy...
3-stars (out of 5)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Brick Lane

Sometimes I wonder how many good movies I am missing out on just for sheer lack of time to be sitting in front of the screen. This thought comes up after watching Brick Lane, and wondering where it came from. A recommendation from a friend at some time in the past leads to it showing up on my Netflix queue and eventually into my home? And yet I have no recollection of ever having even heard of it. It is nice to be surprised by a pleasant little film. Nazneen is a Bangladeshi woman who is "sent" to London for her wedding. She leaves behind her entire life, most importantly her sister, for a new life as a wife and mother in a foreign country. Throughout the film, and presumably her entire life in London, we watch Nazneen pine for Bangladesh, always dreaming of a return. But like many of us, where you are becomes your home whether you want it to be or not. That doesn't mean you can't leave, to return to your previous home or to a new home. But it often surprises us when we realize that this place we always thought of as temporary holds us in a comfortable embrace. When that place we always looked toward is revealed to be a bit dirtier, less appealing than in our minds eye. Brick Lane offers an enjoyable journey of discovery of home and family.
3-stars (out of 5)