In an effort to catch up on some of my recent rentals, here’s a new batch of DVD mini-reviews:
Holy Motors [dir. Leos Carax]
Holy Motors has to be one of the strangest films I have ever seen, and boy, does it know it. Here is a film that is spliced together as something resembling a series of vignettes, each one bizarre in its own way. The film revolves around one man, Mr. Oscar (Denis Lavant), who rides around in a limousine throughout Paris while occasionally stopping to perform in increasingly weird scenarios. While riding, he puts on makeup, changes his costume and grabs the props needed for his next performance. One early scene has him dressed in a motion capture suit in which he simulates sex with a similarly dressed female. Another scene, arguably the movie’s most popular (see photo above), involves Mr. Oscar dressing up as a deformed leprechaun who terrorizes a photo shoot and seemingly falls in love with a supermodel (Eva Mendes).
As the film jumps from scenario to scenario, it’s difficult to make sense of it all. In fact, I still have no clue as to what exactly the film was about. For those expecting a clear narrative, this one is bound to aggravate. Some scenes work better than others, but if you’re willing to go along for the ride, this is one worth taking. It’s certainly one of the most unforgettable movies I have seen. 8/10
The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2 [dir. Jay Oliva]
The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 ended on a cliffhanger that perfectly set up its sequel. Here we have the Joker back to his old ways, feigning sanity in an effort to appear on a talk show from which he escapes. He begins terrorizing Gotham, prompting the 55-year-old Batman to attempt to put an end to his games once and for all. Meanwhile, the President (a caricature of Ronald Reagan) has contacted Superman and requested that he force Batman into ending his vigilantism by any means necessary.
These two storylines are paid off in huge ways, as the battles between Batman and the Joker (and later Superman) rank among the best moments of either film. This is actually a rather dark movie, as Batman slips into a form of brutality that is unheard of from him. Peter Weller once again does a fantastic job voicing the Dark Knight, and Michael Emerson, while no Mark Hamill, is a highlight as the Joker. The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 & 2 make for a great double feature, especially for those who may have been disappointed by Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to the live-action trilogy. 8/10
The Impossible [dir. Juan Antonio Bayona]
The Impossible tells the true story of one family caught in the middle of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed over 230,000 people. The film impeccably captures the devastation and chaos of this natural disaster, and the scene showing the tsunami’s arrival is downright frightening. This is a beautifully made film, but I had a hard time getting over one especially glaring issue: the movie is focused on one white English tourist family.
Nevermind that hundreds of thousands of locals were killed in this awful tragedy; in the film, they are portrayed as merely being there to help the white tourists get medical attention and reunite their families. It also doesn’t help that the film changed the real-life Spanish family that this story is based on into an English one. This begs the question, why are films so afraid to place minorities in their lead roles? This is especially frustrating here because The Impossible is a good film otherwise. The blame can’t be placed on its actors. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts are tremendous — I have no complaints with Watts’ Oscar nomination for her performance — and newcomer Tom Holland is a real highlight as the couple’s oldest son. If you can get over the “whitewashing” factor, this film is worth a look. 7/10
Have you seen any of these? What did you think of them?