Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer Alternatives

Long time no update, blah blah blah, is there anything worse than a blogger apologizing?

Right then, as I look back on the list of movies I've watched recently I see there's a number of little gems that might go unnoticed next to the season's swath of blockbusters. So here is a short list of some of the smaller and dare I say smarter alternatives out there.

If it sounds familiar it's because The Secret won the best foreign feature at the Oscars. At the time I couldn't see how anyone would fail to pick The White Ribbon, but having seen Secret I understand the decision. (I don't agree, but I think I can see why.) The Secret In Their Eyes has a lot of things voters look for in an Oscar-Caliber movie. An epic love story. Dark themes. Restrained but effective acting. This is a movie about the dangers of desire. About being consumed by it or haunted. It has touches of film noir. It's also a very subtle look at the many lives of Argentina. And, as a murder mystery The Secret makes most Hollywood films feel like an episode of Law & Order.

This is an extremely frustrating movie only because I greatly enjoyed it, but I'm afraid if I explain what makes it so satisfying I'll spoil it. So, I will only say this is much more than a movie about the street artist Banksy. This is movie about what happens when you invite the anarchists into the art gallery. It's quite consistent with Banksy's raison d'etre and one of the most provocative docs I've seen in years.

This is a high school comedy that posits the question "Boredom or Apathy?" Which is why I love it. (Well they already had me at the Battleship Potempkin parody.) But for the rest of you let me say Jay Baruchel is all the reason you need to watch this film. Like Che Guevera crossed with Buster Keaton, Jay's conviction brings Leon Bronstein (aka Trotsky) to life. The Trotsky is as close as Canada has gotten to making a movie like Rushmore but director Jacob Tierney did it, by creating his own unique spin on the high-school hero genre.

From the co-writer of the searing Gomorra comes a zesty,
light-as-air comedy of mild-manners: Mid-August Lunch. During a holiday in Italy a good-natured mama's boy Gianni gets stuck watching his mother and a couple other ladies.
Watching the suave, calm and collected Gianni deal with these clucking, complaining women is a master class in coping, not to mention an excellent advert for powers of white wine. A gentle, affectionate comedy that brings to mind Big Night at moments, Mid-August Lunch doesn't oversell its story and knows sometimes a little is enough. (Written, directed and starring Gianni Di Gregorio who based it on his own real-life experiences with his Mama. Awwwwwww.)

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