The Zookeeper's Wife
Niki Caro's rendition of the bestselling book of the same name is heartbreaking fodder for the overtly sentimental story of a husband and wife in Poland during World War II, yet she manages to craft a film that ears its sniffles with a purposeful eye and ear for the small nuances of character and plot. It helps that Jessica Chastain is the wife in question, stoically doing her part to help hide Jews while her husband (an equally great Johan Heldenbergh) gets drawn into the trenches of the Polish Resistance. Basically, the film had me from the very beginning when Chastain helps a young elephant back to life. Those tender moments of human frailty trying to save lives- no matter the species- serves as a cold rebuttal to the oncoming Nazi plague of human obliteration.
Sometimes, hype ruins a film for me. Hearing about Assayas' latest "modern ghost story" since wowing people at Cannes almost a year ago, the landmines were firmly established. Thankfully, "Personal Shopper" exceeds expectations. Starring Kristen Stewart in a restless, frazzled performance that makes her tenuous connection to the afterlife that much more electric, Assayas spins his drama in so many directions that it could fail at any one of them, but doesn't. Part metaphysical ghost story, part murder-mystery and part travelogue, "Personal Shopper" ultimately becomes a pregnant examination of all these genres. It also has something magnificent to say about the transience of life. As the titular personal shopper, Assayas has cast Stewart as the anonymous presence who shops and supplies clothing for a famous celebrity in Paris. Stewart hates the job, and she's stuck emotionally as well, waiting for a sign from the afterlife from her recently deceased brother. Problem is, something else attaches itself to her while playing in the wold of shadows. "Personal Shopper" is startling, perplexing, mischievous and subtly chilling.
Is it sacrilege to say I like this Schwarzenegger over Terminator Schwarzenegger? Full review on
Dallas Film Now.
After the Storm
The best word to describe the films of Hirokazu Koeeda would be generous. This is yet another. Full review on Dallas Film Now