In Terrence Malick's film "The Tree of Life" there is a twenty minute sequence that depicts the birth of the world, the Big Bang Theory; it is breath-taking and the only reason to see the movie. Ron Frick and Mark Magidson's "Samsara" is a glorious extravaganza, a homage to the universe through the eyes of imposing, innovative geniuses. Wordlessly, we travel through 25 countries, accompanied by the haunting sound track of Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard and Marcello De Francicisci; hypnotically, we tramp through temples, fly over the formidable dunes of Namibia, interrupt monks at prayer; marvel at the disparity between wealth and poverty in the third world; mourn the devastation left in the wake of hurricane "Katrina"; dance with the limbered, beautifully, intentionally- deformed hands of Indonesian beauties; see the frenetic processing plants in Japan and China: watch the fascinating evolution from life, death, to the markets, of livestock, robotically accomplished by thousands of anonymous factory workers; crawl through the detritus, garbage with the rag -pickers in India.
The unrelenting pace, dizzying speed in which Fricke and Magidson touch upon all religions; the manufacture of guns and bullets; nature and man working in tandem and against each other; unblinking individuals, indistinguishable from sculptural artifacts, gifts the viewer a roller-coaster ride of exhilarating, exhausting magnitude; witnessing visual, sensual, incredulous pageantry.
It is daunting to choose a resonating scene, they are all meaningful, mesmerizing, memory-binding; but seeing the "inmates" performing in perfect harmony; a pristine Frenchman transform himself from mundane to monster; a single tear descending the luminous cheek of an Asian angel; vast, cinematic landscapes referencing God's and man's omnipotence, magnificence; leaving one with a sense of peace, grace, wonder and awe that filmmakers, taking seven years, have produced a tour de force; unquestionable eminence, destined to reign permanently, in the hierarchy of film masterpieces.
A tale within a tale within a tale of three authors; at its core a scenario of plagiarism, the act of stealing another's idea, lying and convincing the world, and yourself, it is your creation, your brain-child; it has been around since antiquity, and undoubtedly will continue until the end of time.
This is a good film: well-scripted, presented, comprised of an excellent cast. Bradley Cooper stars (also produces) as the conflicted novelist, "plagiarist" "Rory Jansen" whose lust for approbation, recognition, of his skill has gone unrequited; years of drudging, agonizing hours in front of a computer; words, thousands of words, cascading, sculpting thundering thoughts, doors of the dictionary opening, spilling forth at a spell-binding pulse, pungently powerful, potent language never realized on a page before. Rory, flawed but likeable, must address his trepidations, limitations; torpedo his wife's (lovely, lithesome Zoe Saldana) gustatory worship, carve a life from the rubble of a diminished psyche.
Jeremy Irons as the wronged author is mesmerizing; he empowers his performance with immense dignity; living a life in obscurity; one brief moment of brilliance, a supernova; a manuscript composed in the late 1940's; uniquely compelling, beautiful, never to be replicated, gone forever, until Rory rears his plagiaristic "pen".
Dennis Quaid completes the triad, as a successful writer, narrating his most recent book entitled "The Words" and weaves the plot, lacking transparency, that deliciously allows the viewer to decipher.
One is left pondering what drives someone to literary kidnapping; what transpires, deforms one's judgment when the realization strikes that your "best" is frozen mediocrity; a psychological Rubix Cube, demanding years on the "couch" of an expert in the deviations, inconsistencies of the human condition. Herein lies the success of "The Words".
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!
This candidly remarkable film is not for everyone, but more than any movie in recent memory, deals honestly with the staggeringly powerful tentacles of addiction; a hunger that imprisons the body and more pivotally the mind.
"Anders" is granted a day in Oslo after ten months in rehabilitation; he is clean but terrified of unshackled freedom, the bane, angst of choice. Anders Danielsen Lie's breathtaking depiction of this brilliant, tortured soul will haunt you days after viewing; he is an aesthete, gaunt, an "El Greco" replica, blessed with a smile devastatingly, painfully poignant; peppered with pain, vulnerability.
His day in Oslo symbolizes, mirrors a reflection of his past experiences; his friends, lost love, memories of a life lived in the warmth, cocoon, haze of addiction, the fleeting invincibility, the rewards of obfuscating reality, the nightmare of waking to a world uninhabitable, without cocaine, heroin. The quiet, pristine orderly streets of Oslo in contrast to the tumultuous, chaotic psyche of Anders is a splash of genius from director, Joachim Trier.
"Oslo, August 31'" is one man's journey, searching, questioning but always realizing the answers hover at the very core of his being. An unforgettable day in Oslo, as the summer wanes and a 34-year-old Anders determines his fate.
David Cronenberg has made some pivotally powerful films ("Eastern Promises", "History of Violence") but "Cosmopolis" does not flirt or touch the legitimacy of his past movies.
A dark, senseless "awakening" in a materialistic, capitalistic "cosmos"; billionaire "Eric Packer" spends a day in a white stretch limousine (technologically equipped), visited by staff, girlfriends, financial advisers, even his doctor; while watching his portfolio shrink into oblivion; his car massacred by disgruntled, frustrated mobs; his wife of few weeks, regains her senses, abandons him. He is an emotionally bereft cad; undeserving of a modicum of empathy.
With galvanizing effort I try not to be influenced by actors off screen personas; they are not cognizant of my existence; they are a financial obligation; their only responsibility, to entertain. I lack all interest in their relationships (whether asexual, heterosexual or homosexual), their political affiliations or vacation destinations. But it was hopeless to shun the bombardment of the Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson debacle; I went to see "Cosmopolis" because I pitied Mr. Pattinson, cuckolded, humiliated by Ms. Stewart; universally, blatantly advertized; an error I pledge never to repeat.
"Eric Packer" poker-faced, staccato-voiced, disillusioned titan of mega-wealth; Mr.Pattinson's physiognomy is the sole redeeming aspect of this tiring, excruciating, exacerbating, pedantic diatribe dedicated to the blight of capitalism, its concentration on the few, and exclusion of the masses. Eric, heartless, devoid of passion, spews intellectual sophisms; questions, quests for validity in his vacuous world. He and his wife have droning, incomprehensible, zombie-like conversations; two windup, robotic oddities, devoid of connective tissue.
Minor roles, depicted by major actors (Amy Morton, Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti) could not save this platitudinous prattle from sinking into a mire of murky melodrama.
ONE & 1/2 STARS!!
In 1994, San Antonio, Texas 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay disappears, vanishes without a trace; he is blond, blue-eyed, incorrigible, loveably irritating, a bane to his mother and older brother; his sister Carey Gibson, for years, grieves and searches, for her younger, painfully-missed sibling. Almost three and a half years later he surfaces in Linares, Spain.
"The Imposter" is an excellent documentary that should be seen for its mesmerizing, psychological analogies; a major news story in 1997, the scenario commences with heart-wrenching testimonials from family members, and a grown-up, dark-skinned "Nicholas".
It is impossible to dissect "The Imposter" without revealing salient aspects of the unfolding, unbelievable progression from myopic faith to bludgeoning, horrific reality. Here is a study of the fragility, vulnerability of human nature; the vanishing of a loved one, resulting in a life of perpetual torture, the Hades, purgatory of never knowing; a life devoid of closure, incapable of healing; a wound that oozes unremitting anguish. The power of the unconscious and conscious mind; stunning, alchemical ability to accept the inconceivable. In tandem, an investigation of a gifted chameleon, a magician, Merlin of obfuscation, potently altering, poisoning lives one lie at a time.
Long after the credits concluded I sat frozen, wondering how and why this tragedy, travesty occurred; questions unanswered, but cognizant "but for the grace of God" I will never feel the agony of a family ripped asunder, vivisected forever from normalcy; you ache for them, pray for them.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!