4 items from 2011
'Cancer comedy' proves you don't have to resort to Hollywood cliches when it comes to death on film, says John Patterson
At the movies, Death never gets any respect. Among the diverse fates and dooms available to any movie's characters, he's always the last guy anyone wants to hang out with. But, in a nice karmic turnaround, he is indeed the very last guy they'll get to hang out with. Always the party-pooper, always a drag, ever the least welcome guest at any table he sups at, people flee for the far horizon fearing the touch of his scythe or, more often, the very notion that he actually exists, that he's coming …
Hollywood is in America, where the point of life is that it must never be allowed to end, and so it mostly practises the mealy-mouthed approach to death favoured by many of its citizen-ticket buyers. No one ever actually dies, »
- John Patterson
In the 10 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks, film directors have responded in myriad ways. Peter Bradshaw charts the rise and fall of the 9/11 movie
At the Venice film festival last week, George Clooney unveiled his new backstairs political drama, The Ides of March, about a Democratic presidential candidate getting bogged down in compromise, backstabbing and the dark political arts. Clooney said that he could conceivably have completed the film before now, but President Obama had been doing too well, and therefore the time wasn't right.
Perhaps Clooney was being serious and perhaps he wasn't. But the remark typifies the dwindling of the memory of 9/11 in Hollywood cinema. The Obama presidency, ushered in by the catastrophe of the Bush reign, is now perceived to be in trouble, and this enables a prominent Hollywood liberal to make the kind of savvy, ahistorically pessimistic political movie that could have been produced at »
- Peter Bradshaw
Although most religions forbid it, human societies throughout history have accepted suicide as a reality. Sometimes, as in Japan, it was seen as a matter of personal honor. Usually it was seen as an act of despair, or a manifestation of insanity. It can also be seen as a rational act, and to assist someone in committing it can be seen as an act of mercy.
I have never, even in my darkest hours, considered suicide. But with my troubles I have been fortunate; I've never had unbearable physical pain. In Barry Levinson's movie "You Don't Know Jack," Dr. Jack Kevorkian's best friend says his mother told him: "Imagine the worst toothache you've ever had. Now imagine that's how it feels in every bone of your body."
After Paul Schrader assured me Al Pacino's performance in the film was the best of the year, I rented it from Netflix, »
- Roger Ebert
From its arresting opening to its shattering conclusion, the Canadian film Incendies is muscular, emotional film-making of the highest order, self-confident in its delivery yet always respectful of its characters' plight. It starts in slo-mo, to the sound of Radiohead, in what looks like a children's Qu'ran school, in a desert, where we see boys having their heads shaved by soldiers. One of the boys fixes the camera with a chilling stare as hair falls around his feet.
The film then switches to a law firm in Montreal, where a mother's will is being read to her grief-stricken twins, daughter Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and son Simon (Maxim Gaudette). The lawyer Maître Lebel is played by the great Quebecois actor Rémy Girard, from another Canadian family saga, Denys Arcand's Les Invasions Barbares. This, too, is a tale of family, identity and, perhaps, forgiveness as the will sets Jeanne, a student of pure maths, »
- Jason Solomons
4 items from 2011
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