Only the French could call such a bleak, black comedy as “Let the Sunshine In” a rom-com. Through the American lens, it more closely resembles a tragedy, or at least a mournful character study. The story of a middle-aged painter named Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) in search of love, or at least intimacy, has very few belly-laughs and a melancholy tone throughout that belies humor. What director Claire Denis and her co-screenwriter Christine Angotclearly set out to do, in their adaptation of Roland Barthes book, is to present a stinging diatribe against the awfulness of dating and the scarcity of decent, sensitive men. And on that level, it succeeds spectacularly. Whether or not one finds that funny or not may depend upon where they sit in the romantic landscape.
It’s very early in the year, but the Oscars very likely have their first Best Actress nominee. Charlize Theron gives such a commanding, blistering, and raw performance in the new dramedy “Tully” that the Academy would be fools to ignore it. The rest of the film is almost as strong as she is but make no mistake this is one complex and affecting film about motherhood. Directed by Jason Reitman, it’s the third film he’s made with screenwriter Diablo Cody after “Juno” and “Young Adult” and it’s clearly a sublime partnership. Their latest triumph explores the overwhelming job that motherhood is and showcases all sides of it, from the hilarious to the harrowing to the heartbreaking.
Sometimes you don’t have to go too far afield to find worlds that feel utterly foreign. The Orthodox Jewish community at the center of the film “Disobedience” is one that will likely look exceedingly strange to the average person. On display in the story are archaic rituals, ultra-conservative beliefs at odds with modern sensibilities, and even a dress code that looks ludicrous by today’s standards. The northern London Jewish community presented here is an exceedingly restrictive world, particularly for women. Yet, within this bubble of a neighborhood, a love story will flourish, and it’s one that will defy all of the Jewish practices.
Now that Marvel Studios’ ginormous, star-studded, all-hands-on-deck, tentpole “Avengers: Infinity War” has opened and broken worldwide box office records with a take of $630 million worldwide, plot spoilers are everywhere. Thus, this review can critique the whole of the movie, not just its basic premise, and more wholly address the controversies and shocks dominating most of the chatter across social media. The funny thing is that most of the spoilers have been out there since 1991 already when the six-issue “Infinity Gauntlet”, on which it was based, was published. As if that wasn’t enough, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been trumpeting the pending slate of films on their docket all over TV and online, defying some of what this new film would have us believe about various characters’ fates. In a way, this is a movie that must be doubly critiqued – for what appeared onscreen and all that swirls around it offscreen as well.