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Under solen (1998)
good film, deliberately paced
Under the Sun is a good film, deliberately paced. The lead, who plays a farmer, in particular, does a fine job.
The movie goes out of its way to avoid nudity in the love scenes, which stikes me a kinda coy. Nevertheless, characters are quite well established. Every action seems to spring from the character's nature, not the need for a plot twist.
The actress who plays a newspaper clerk also should be singled out for praise.
I prefered the direcor's "House of Angels" set in contemporary times. However setting the movie in the past allows the director some sly commentary on a character's fate after the events in the movie take place.
Honest exploration of the difficulties of connecting.
This movie, by the director of Run Lola Run, is less contrived.
It also is more honest in exploring the difficulties of connecting with other people, and the randomness of some connections.
People in the movie make choices that make them vulnerable. To a certain extent, fate determines how big the consequences are. But in the end, the characters, just as the viewers, have to play things out as best they can.
Even people who are in tough situations may enjoy life. And none of us realize how closely we are connected to others.
State and Main (2000)
Mamet a better writer than director
State and Main seemed slow, especially in the beginning. It had its moments, but it needed more zest. Faster paced editing would have helped.
It was the first time I've been disappointed in a Hoffman performance. His character was written as a fish out of water but I think he overdid it a tad. Would an accomplished writer hired by Hollywood be so slow on the uptake? I'm not saying he was bad (he had a sweetness) but I went in with high expectations. State and Main is worth renting, but it is not of the calibre of Day For Night or Sullivan's Travels. Mamet the director let down Mamet the writer.
Woman on Top (2000)
a charming star vehicle
Penelope Cruz has the charm to make this gentle fable work. Of course it is not the Seventh Seal. It does not pretend to be. But people who enjoy the heavy stuff should not FEAR light movies. When the stars are properly aligned even the most repressed in their black berets may enjoy this. But I will concede that if you go in there thinking It's All Quiet on the Western Front, you will come out mighty irritated. And the movie is not strong enough to win you over if you go in there with a "show me" attitude. You have to relax & let it's charm wash over you. Then a day later, go see a Bergman movie if you feel guilty.