Woman In Gold
Based on a true story about an aging woman's quest to see the Klimt artwork that was stolen from her family during World War II returned to its rightful heirs, Simon Curtis' "Woman In Gold" kept me involved since the idea of looted Nazi art has long been a fascination for me. Not so fascinating is the filmmaker's attempt to "cutify" the relationship between snippy Helen Mirren and shaggy-dog, good boy lawyer Ryan Reynolds, who honestly feels wrong for the role. Their imple, one-note performances aside, "Woman In Gold" excels when it tells the parallel story of Marie Altmann (Mirren) as a young girl (played to perfection by Tatiana Maslany) and just how their family dealt with the oncoming Nazi oppression. Not only does the 1940's set portion of the film ably emanate the fear, anxiety and taut intrigue of Marie's flight from her homeland, but it bolsters the frustrated energy of present-day Mirren and the incessant bureaucratic blockades thrown in front of her. Alongside "The Rape of Europa", "Woman In Gold" tells an all-too shameful story with glimmers of hope that certain pieces of great art can still be redeemed and reunited in the proper hands.
Beyond The Reach
Should be retitled "Figures In the Landscape Part 2". For the first two-thirds of the way, this is a taut and wry survival thriller until a final ten minutes completely wrecks it. Full review at Dallas Film Now.
While We're Young
The films of Noah Baumbach can be alienating and acerbic, dealing with highly intellectual people who come off as either pretentious, stuck up or downright screwed up (see "Greenberg"). In "While We're Young", that pretty much all describes its main couple played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. But instead of creating a lonely emotional vacuum for his characters to flounder, complain and waste away in, he imbues them with some depth and even had me caring about them. As a forty-something married couple, childless and left behind by the other couples of their age, Stiller and Watts find energy in a young couple (played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfreid) and try to re-live some of the spontaneity they once felt. Weaving in some smart filmic in-jokes and, ultimately ending up as a rather profound (and very funny) meditation on the veritable "truth" that lies right before their eyes, "While We're Young" ranks as the best film Baumbach has crafted yet. And Charles Grodin is fantastic.
A weird, off kilter Godard homage that, even though it has its shortcomings, I still recommend for its New Wave pop soundtrack and beautifully framed aesthetic. Read the full review at Dallas Film Now.