Sunday, December 30, 2012

In the Mood for Podcast: Episode 30

EPISODE 30: 2D Or Not 2D
You can Listen online or
(Right click... save as)

It's Episode 30 of In the Mood for Podcast, a British-based film podcast hosted by Calum Reed of Ultimate Addict and Pete Sheppard of In the Mood for Blog. The last podcast of 2012 sees us catch up on releases from the past ten days. They include the dubiously-casted "Jack Reacher," the aca-entertaining "Pitch Perfect," and Bette Midler's return to the screen in family comedy "Parental Guidance." We snubbed the 3D showing of "Life of Pi," but still discuss its visual prowess in length, and also chat about directors with a history of elevating their source material. All of this, plus a discussion about the hotly-contested Foreign Language Oscar race, and a pitch for a Greer Garson biopic.

Discussed on the podcast: 

Opening Segment: Discussing the recently announced shortlist of contenders for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar  [2:45 - 17:30]

*Preconception Corner*

Reviews of: 
  • "Jack Reacher"
  • "Pitch Perfect"
  • "Parental Guidance"
[20:20 - 49:45]

Closing Segment: Our take on “Life of Pi,” and discussing directors who elevate their source material 
[49:50 - 1:07:35]

*Shag, Marry or Kill?*
*The Watson Factor*
*The Poupaud Range*

Intro Music: New theme music!
Outro Music: Phoenix, "Rome"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In the Mood for Podcast: Episode 29

EPISODE 29: Long Day's Journey Into Middle Earth
You can Listen online or
(Right click... save as)

It's Episode 29 of In the Mood for Podcast, a British-based film podcast hosted by Calum Reed of Ultimate Addict and Pete Sheppard of In the Mood for Blog. This week we give our reaction to the Golden Globe and SAG nominations, assessing the races as they stand. We find our patience severely tested by Peter Jackson's epic first installment of the Hobbit Trilogy, the first of which, "An Unexpected Journey," fails to be a tale of the unexpected. We catch up with the animated "Rise of the Guardians," but Santa and the Tooth Fairy may not make the ideal dream team for one of us. And while Kristin Scott-Thomas may find herself the only performer in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" without a nomination this week, she may at least take consolation in the fact that she can still rock a designer gown. She takes on the luscious Ludivine Sagnier in trashy french flick "Love Crime" ...
Discussed on the podcast: 

Opening Segment: Reacting to the Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild nominations and assessing how that affects the Oscar race  [3:15 - 24:00]

*Preconception Corner*

Reviews of: 

  • "The Hobbit"
  • "Rise of the Guardians"
  • "Love Crime"
  • "Babette's Feast" (25th anniversary re-release)
  • "Baraka"
[27:35 - 1:05:45]

Closing Segment: Dishing the dirt on 2012 releases we’ve been catching up with: "A Royal Affair"; "Caesar Must Die"; "The Deep Blue Sea"; "The Giant Mechanical Man"; "Vamps"; "Bye Bye Blondie"  [1:05:50 - 1:20:10]

*Shag, Marry or Kill?*[Audio difficulties meant that *The Watson Factor* and *The Poupaud Range* failed to record this week -- for interested parties, 1.0 and 1.0.]

Intro Music: New theme music!
Outro Music: Sigur Ros, Hoppipolla

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Hugo Weaving
Grade: C - [37]

I consider myself quite a patient filmgoer, but walking into a chance 48 frames-per-second screening of ‘The Hobbit’ seemed to change that almost instantly. Subtitled “An Unexpected Journey,” for no other reason than to differentiate it from the forthcoming parts 2 and 3 of Tolkien’s modestly-leaved novel, there’s very little expectation the film fails to fulfil on a thematic level, but in employing this novel visual technique ultimately does more harm than good. Visual elements are very low on my agenda when reviewing a movie, but when they’re executed in such a frenetic and incoherent way it’s difficult to forgive; “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” looks like a behind-the-scenes featurette, wherein action sequences feel staged and wholly distract from their grander context. 

At one-hundred-and-seventy minutes the film heavily drags, especially in a first act of which 80% could be easily disposed of. Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins is established as a homely fusspot reluctant to venture out, his trademark dry brand of comedy successful in combating the staunch representation of factional warfare at its noblest and harrumph-est. Serkis gets that the film badly needs light spots, too, his and Freeman’s only scene together one of the rare highlights to recall the most accomplished parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A major issue is that there’s very little rapport to the characters, or a sense of importance to their journey, to make this seem like more than a Tolkien retread. And when McKellen’s Gandalf exclaims “And Into the Fire” in response to his dwarf friend’s cautionary bellow, “Out of the Frying Pan,” you really feel like the screenwriters have run out of ideas. Proverbs 1: Cinema 0.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In the Mood for Podcast: Episode 28

EPISODE 28: Masculine/Feminine
You can Listen online or
(Right click... save as)

It's Episode 28 of In the Mood for Podcast, a British-based film podcast hosted by Calum Reed of Ultimate Addict and Pete Sheppard of In the Mood for Blog. Awards dominate this week with discussion of the National Board of Review, LA film critics, and Boston film critics prizes, and predicting the Golden Globe and Screen Actors' Guild nominations. We talk about documentaries "The House I Live In" and "Knuckleball," before finally getting around to arthouse favourite "Tabu." And in straddling major extremes of masculinity, Martin McDonagh's male-dominated "Seven Pscyhopaths" faces off against our second Miley Cyrus film of the year, "So Undercover." The Miley vehicle brings giggles and shame to an otherwise level-headed episode, but we brought it on ourselves...

Discussed on the podcast: 

Opening Segment: Discussing the winners from the National Board of Review, LA film critics' association, and Boston Society of Film Critics'. [2:35 - 14:40]

*Preconception Corner*

Reviews of: 

  • "Seven Psychopaths"
  • "Tabu"
  • "The House I Live In"
  • "Knuckleball"
  • "So Undercover"
[18:20 - 55:35]

Closing Segment: Predicting the Golden Globe nominations, and the Screen Actors' Guild nominations [55:40 - 1:12:10]

*Shag, Marry or Kill?*

*The Watson Factor*
*The Poupaud Range*

Intro Music: New theme music!
Outro Music: Sky Ferreira, "Everything Is Embarrassing"

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

In the Mood for Podcast: Episode 27

EPISODE 27: Mental Playlists
You can Listen online or
(Right click... save as)

It's Episode 27 of In the Mood for Podcast, a British-based film podcast hosted by Calum Reed of Ultimate Addict and Pete Sheppard of In the Mood for Blog. This week sees the old guard return, with Clint Eastwood back in front of the camera in "Trouble with the Curve," and austere Austrian mainstay Michael Haneke bringing his Palme d'Or winner "Amour" to Anglo eyes. Dickens' classic "Great Expectations" and gory Brit-comedy "Sightseers" get a dissection of their own, and after six months Cal has finally seen a 2012 Bollywood production, but is "normal" crime thriller "Talaash" the ideal candidate to ease him in? All this, plus our reaction to the NYFCC winners and a look ahead to the NBR...

Discussed on the podcast: 

Opening Segment: Discussing the winners of the New York Film Critics Circle's annual awards, and a brief look at the Golden Satellite nominations. [1:50 - 13:00]

*Preconception Corner*

Reviews of: 

  • "Amour"
  • "Great Expectations"
  • "Sightseers"
  • "Talaash"
[17:15 - 52:20]

Closing Segment: Our review of Clint Eastwood vehicle "Trouble with the Curve" and our predictions for the National Board of Review.  [52:30 - 1:14:25]

*Shag, Marry or Kill?*

*The Watson Factor*
*The Poupaud Range*

Intro Music: New theme music!
Outro Music: Army Navy, "Slight of Hand"

The National Board of Review Ensures "Zero Dark Thirty" Stays In The Hunt

It's my annual attempt at predicting something relatively unpredictable, the prizes bestowed by the National Board of Review. The 'freemasons' of the awards circuit, I'm not sure anyone quite knows who sits on this board or how it has gotten to be such a fixture in the season, nevertheless, it's always fun to look at what they choose each year.

[Updated with winners -- prediction score 13/24]

Picture: “Zero Dark Thirty"

Top 10: 
"Beasts of the Southern Wild”
"Django Unchained"
“Les Miserables”

”The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
"Promised Land"

“Silver Linings Playbook”
”Zero Dark Thirty”

Prediction score: 6/11

Prediction summary: You would think the assumed six safe bets for Best Picture nominations are among the 11 (10 + winner) championed by the board, those being “Argo,” “Lincoln,” “Life of Pi,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” After that, it could be a free-for-all; “Flight” and “Trouble with the Curve” fit that middle-of-the-road movie that this group often includes – the latter being basically a Clint Eastwood movie, despite him not officially directing it. “The Master” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” seem to be on the decline right now, but I’m going to suggest that they come through based on their passionate pockets of fans. 

“Moonrise Kingdom” too, in that regard, although it’s resurrecting awards steam and should be a strong contender for a screenplay nomination with Oscar. You could replace “Skyfall” with “The Dark Knight Rises” or “The Avengers” or even “Magic Mike” in my predictions: it’s that smash hit entrant I figure makes it in like “Star Trek” and the final Harry Potter film did. 

Director: Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Leading Actor: Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Leading Actress: Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Supporting Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio, "Django Unchained"
Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, "Compliance"

Prediction score: 1/5

Prediction summary: Bigelow seems like the perfect choice for Director critics prizes (more so than the film as Best Picture because of the severity of “Zero Dark Thirty”) although this could easily go to Ang Lee, Tom Hooper, or Steven Spielberg instead. I’m expecting Daniel Day-Lewis to sweep, and Hathaway and Jones to start ascending to frontrunner status. As for leading actress, this could go anywhere, so I’m picking Keira Knightley as a semi-outsider pick, based on the classic nature of the role and that they’ve tended to go for younger actresses of late. 

Original Screenplay: “Moonrise Kingdom”
Adapted Screenplay: “Lincoln”
Ensemble: “Les Miserables”
Breakthrough Actor: Tom Holland, “The Impossible”
Breakthrough Actress: Quvenzhane Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Animated Feature: “Frankenweenie”
Documentary Feature: “Searching For Sugar Man”
Foreign Film: “Amour"

Prediction score: 6/8

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Late Show (1977)

The Late Show
Directed by Robert Benton
Starring: Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy
Grade: B [72] 

A wonderfully ironic pastiche of old noir films, this tale of two Roberts (Altman produced it and Benton wrote and directed it) has the nuts and bolts of its private-eye detective yarn screwed tightly together, even if its mystery remains curiously detached from the rest. Benton’s quirky satirical vibe creates a forlorn environment for Tomlin’s idiosyncratic, attractively unrefined comedic tone to thrive, and the notion that Carney’s detective is over-the-hill – while flouted far too keenly – is effective at stripping down the perceived weaknesses of the noir hero (booze and women) and replacing them with insecurities about age and status. Its key downfall is that the linear tale of blackmail and murder lacks inherent drama or interest -- a secondary aim of the film for sure, but one that saps it of the juice it needs to become thoroughly enjoyable as more than a nostalgic genre exercise. Still eminently worthwhile, but ultimately underachieving.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In the Mood for Podcast: Episode 26

EPISODE 26: A Little Bromance
You can Listen online or
(Right click... save as)

It's Episode 26 of In the Mood for Podcast, a British-based film podcast hosted by Calum Reed of Ultimate Addict and Pete Sheppard of In the Mood for Blog. This week we're warming up for awards with discussions of Oscar lineups from 1942, 1952, 1962, and 2003, as well as forecasting this year's nominees. The big release is David O'Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook," of which the focus is firmly on Jennifer Lawrence, while buddy-cop drama "End of Watch" has the job of setting this week's pulses racing. The girls of hotline comedy "For a Good Time, Call.." get our inner-chick mode going, before Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz strip for "Gambit."  A late squabble about Indian cinema sets Jake and Michael's bar-setting bromance down some notches, but this was a fun one...

Discussed on the podcast: 

Opening Segment: The contentious results of the Leeds Film Festival's audience votes, and championing films and performances that won’t make our year-end lists [2:05 - 14:00]

*Preconception Corner*

Reviews of: 

  • "End of Watch"
  • "For a Good Time, Call..."
  • "Gambit"
  • "Lawrence of Arabia" (50th anniversary re-release)
[18:20 - 57:55]

Closing Segment: David O'Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook": considering the awards chances of its cast, offering examples of actors Oscar-nominated for the wrong films, and predicting next week's New York Film Critics Circle prizes. [58:00 - 1:17:10]

*Shag, Marry or Kill?*

*The Watson Factor*
*The Poupaud Range*

Intro Music: New theme music!
Outro Music: Ellie Goulding, "Anything Can Happen"

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Black Stallion (1979)

The Black Stallion
Directed by Carroll Ballard
Starring: Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney, Teri Garr
Grade: A - [83] 

A picture postcard of early adolescence, “The Black Stallion” is everything Spielberg’s “War Horse” should have been: majestic, effortless, forged with sentiment but rarely overflowing with it. It’s a beautiful story of a boy-horse bond that’s underpinned but, crucially, allowed to breathe, Ballard capturing the shipwrecked duo’s learned mutual trust with a ten-minute wordless sequence alive with grace and profound feeling. This somewhat simple journey takes a different shape when Oscar-nominated Mickey Rooney enters the picture, but in replacing the horse’s temporary purpose as a paternal figure, the film enlightens the adaptability of animals and our use of them to great effect. Despite the obvious similarities to “War Horse” it finds a depth and scope displayed infinitely better in Bresson’s “Au Hasard Balthazar,” and yet can be identified as a wonderful family movie, too.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wanderlust (2012)

Directed by David Wain
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Kathryn Hahn, Malin Akerman, Alan Alda
Grade: C+ [53] 

”Wanderlust” is a comedy that works on a purely theoretical level: Cultural depictions take opposing extremes; identities and purposes get muddied and melded, and everyone lives happily ever after. The film manages to create humour without being offensive, amusing when approaching ideological inconsistencies and the flexible nature of liberation, and charming in the way that the theme-driven elements of the piece recall simple, old-fashioned funnies like “The Egg and I.” Still, while Wain’s social commentary is crystal clear, the mechanics around it are disingenuous and forced (perhaps that’s what comes with painting so many characters as bare-faced hypocrites?) and a dubious finale undoes some of the good work, too. It’s a pleasant change to see a basic conceit mined for all of its worth, but there isn’t really enough in “Wanderlust” to justify investment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In the Mood for Podcast: Episode 25

EPISODE 25: Tricks of the Trade
You can Listen online or
(Right click... save as)

A mini milestone is passed in Episode 25 of In the Mood for Podcast, a British-based film podcast hosted by Calum Reed of Ultimate Addict and Pete Sheppard of In the Mood for Blog. This week our attentions are divided between nutritious world cinema and meaty awards chat, as The Hollywood Reporter's annual roundtables prompt us to gossip about the females of 2012. From there we move onto reviews of "Mental," "Jab Tak Hai Jaan," "Happy Happy," "A Better Life," and "On Air," before returning to process Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," well-publicised as having sent critics spinning. We're less concerned with the weight of the film than Amy Adams' elbow grease, which proves just too rich a source of innuendo for some...
Discussed on the podcast: 

Opening Segment: We chat at length about The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable, the participants of which were Amy Adams, Marion Cotillard, Sally Field, Anne Hathaway, Helen Hunt, Naomi Watts, and Rachel Weisz. Who came off best, and which ladies are the frontrunners for awards? [2:40 - 18:10]

*Preconception Corner*

Reviews of: 

  • "Mental"
  • "Jab Tak Hai Jaan"
  • "Happy Happy"
  • "A Better Life"
  • "On Air"
[21:10 - 51:55]

Closing Segment: Our thoughts on Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” and discussing the art of balancing double features. [52:00 - 1:11:35]

*Shag, Marry or Kill?*

*The Watson Factor*
*The Poupaud Range*

Intro Music: New theme music!
Outro Music: Missy Elliot, "One Minute Man"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Argo (2012)

Directed by Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Scoot McNairy
Grade: C+ [55] 

For a film situated in the midst of a complex era for American-middle Eastern relations Affleck’s “Argo” bathes in simplicity, spurning insight into the period for a by-the-numbers rescue mission narrative. A ‘thriller’ without the thrills, it’s a sort of bedraggled descendant of Spielberg’s “Munich,” with less of the genuine peril or interesting character work which that film – for all of its faults – had in spades. Gleefully aware of its lack of earnestness and celebratory of Hollywood’s mysticism as a weapon against uniformity and protocol, the film-insider knowledge in the opening act works best in gaining a rapport for this lovingly novel conceit. It's less successful when becoming a primarily dramatic text, somehow underwhelming despite its sensationalist approach to a logistical, suspense-geared culmination, underserving both its audience and its intriguing real-life source material.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In the Mood for Podcast: Episode 24

EPISODE 24: Disrupt the Peace
You can Listen online or

It's Episode 24 of In the Mood for Podcast, a British-based film podcast hosted by Calum Reed of Ultimate Addict and Pete Sheppard of In the Mood for Blog. This week Ben Affleck's awards juggernaut "Argo" lands on British shores, but does it live up to the considerable hype? "Transformers" scribe Alex Kurtzman is the latest to lure Michelle Pfeiffer back to the screen in the family drama "People Like Us," while the established pull of Chris O'Dowd is tested in Wayne Blair's "The Sapphires." Pete endures Kevin James in "Here Comes the Boom," and Cal sits in for daunting "Dogtooth" director Giorgos Lanthimos's eery follow-up, "Alps." All this, and an opening segment on Wong Kar-wai's upcoming "The Grandmasters," which goes a little awry when an unexpected intruder stymies Pete's reverent flow. Well, not everyone liked "My Blueberry Nights"...

On the podcast: 

Opening Segment: Discussing the week's news, reactions to the first trailer for Wong Kar-wai's "The Grandmasters," and some fond thoughts about the filmmaker's career thus far. [1:10 - 15:30]

*Preconception Corner*

Reviews of: 

  • "The Sapphires"
  • "People Like Us"
  • "Here Comes the Boom"
  • "Alps"
[18:50 - 54:25]

Closing Segment: Discussing "Argo," crazy real-life stories adapted for cinema, and looking at early betting odds for the Best Picture Oscar. [54:30 - 1:13:05]

*Shag, Marry or Kill?*

*The Watson Factor*
*The Poupaud Range*

Intro Music: Faye Wong, "Dream Person"
Outro Music: The Supremes, "The Happening"

Skyfall (2012)

Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris
Grade: B [71] 

It wasn’t particularly reassuring when Sam Mendes became the latest A-lister to tackle the Bond franchise, his failure to register a worthy follow-up to debut smash “American Beauty” having lasted for more than a decade now. Thankfully, “Skyfall” is a return to form for the British filmmaker, its flag-waving patriotism omnipresent but on this occasion diluted with the dense, loaded political context of a Christopher Nolan film (Mendes himself has admitted Nolan’s influence), and an inherently personal motive for its villain beyond megalomania and terrorism. Like “Quantum of Solace” this feels like a transitory entrant in the 007 series (one would hope that the next installment be considerably more fun) but the use of literary roots adds dimension to an otherwise excellently-staged action adventure, and Craig continues to impress in his stint as the agent. It feels as though the character badly needs a boost, but in the stakes of entertainment “Skyfall” is yet another slam dunk for fans of this ever-adapting world of espionage.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rust and Bone (2012)

Rust and Bone
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Corinne Masiero
Grade: B [69] 

For a film about drawing strength from physical adversity, “Rust and Bone” isn’t half as uplifting a time as its slushy, aquatic trailer would have you believe. It’s rare that a romance comes along so eager to purge its characters of traditional forms of grace, and still express the rich, interdependent courage that exists between them. The imposing performances of Cotillard and Schoenaerts punctuate Audiard’s themes well, and the coarseness of their romance lends something uniquely powerful to the experience. It’s somewhat soured when some heavy-handed plotting sweeps in to enforce an epiphany in the final act, but the effect is more dispiriting than ruinous. When even Katy Perry’s “Firework” is utilised to profoundly moving effect, you have to figure that this is a somewhat successful exercise in spinning straw into gold.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

Silent Hill: Revelation
Directed by Michael J. Bassett
Starring: Adelaide Clemens, Kit Harrington, Sean Bean, Radha Mitchell
Grade: D [22] 

After Christophe Gans’s artistic prowess loomed assuredly over 2006’s initial adaptation of the popular video game, this sequel is content to replace practical effects with characterless technological frippery, and pack oodles of badly-written, baffling back-story onto an already obscurely-plotted series. Discussion of spirituality is shelved for a minor romance, a vague kidnap plot, and mostly worthless attempts at cheap thrills, while Mitchell and Bean are consigned to bit-parts around the vapid figures of Clemens and Harrington. Somewhere along the way the unique qualities of this grand horror-of-the-unknown have been muddied and lost, either by rashly conceiving of a follow-up designed to make a quick buck at the box-office, or by the limitations of the material itself. I’m inclined to go with the former.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Beyond the Hills (2012)

Beyond the Hills
Directed by Christian Mungiu
Starring: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta, Dana Tapalaga
Grade: C [48] 

While Mungiu’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days” exposed backstreet abortion as a harrowing, exploitative ordeal, it at least brought to light the stigma of social issues with a powerful realism relatively unseen in Romanian cinema of the time. Beautifully shot and thoroughly engrossing in its first half, this story of nuns in rural Romania is provocative in the way that his previous films have been, but in dealing with the trials and tribulations within fundamentalist Christianity he makes fewer observations about society than he does insinuations, and cynically muddies religion in brazen, simple terms. Even as an Atheist it’s difficult to condone the contemptuous techniques at play here, burying a love story underneath what is essentially “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” played out in terribly repetitive terms over two-and-a-half gruelling hours. His social commentary only really becomes apparent in the final scenes of the film, capped by a final shot which serves to heighten the distaste. This is grubby business.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Like Someone In Love (2012)

Like Someone In Love 
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Rin Takahashi, Tadashi Okuno, Ryo Kase, Denden
Grade: A- [87] 

After Kiarostami’s last film, “Certified Copy,” explored the uncertainty of relationships so briskly, his latest is a tender companion piece with similar themes. The emphasis here is more on how we (particularly young people) approach issues of love and commitment, told through the striking Rin Takahashi’s chance encounter with older man Tadashi Okuno. I found much to relate to in the film’s depiction of the inherent confidence of youth when approaching cross-generational matters of romance (that comes from being more virile and attractive), even as that confidence is often a brittle façade. The film is rarely sexual but nevertheless remains about how sexuality colours our view of relationships, ageing, and overall purpose. Does monogamy seem like an unattainable, unthinkable goal? Okuno does an excellent job of buffering this discussion as an on-screen voice of author Kiarostami, and as a curious respondent to young romance at its most tempestuous and doomed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fill the Void (2012)

Fill the Void
Directed by Rama Burshtein
Starring: Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg
Grade: B [71]

Despite its deployment of age-old commentary Rama Burshtein’s drama about arranged marriages in orthodox Jewish religion integrates its Austen-derived brand of feminity with a remarkably non-judgemental insight into faith and custom. As a participant of the Jewish faith Burshtein fails to shy away from the difficult pressures of marriage as a confluence of morality, duty, necessity -- and, yes, love -- but does so by revealing how these elements can be shaped into making a decision wise for one’s own future both logically and emotionally. I’m a long way from believing that commitment should stem from anything more than it should stem from love, but this film offers an uncommon, ingrained viewpoint by which to consider the issue more closely. Dramatically repetitive but thematically rich, it’s a film which compels discussion more than most I’ve seen this year.