REVIEW: Le Week-End

13 06 2017

Who says going to the City of Light is always a romantic, picturesque getaway? In Roger Michell’s “Le Week-End,” a British couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary finds the city a staging ground for their most practical and petty matters. For Meg and Nick (Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent), this grand city does not necessarily demand grappling with grand problems.

Newell finds the sweet spot between the gentle compassion of Nancy Meyers and the plainspoken working-class mentality of Mike Leigh. Not to mention, his depiction of the city also occupies a halfway ground between the American romanticizing of Paris and the French highlighting of its underbelly. The film provides a window into the dissatisfaction a couple may face when the kids are gone and they have to truly face each other. As you stare down the end, whose hand do you want to hold?

“Le Week-End” might feel a touch more slight were the graying crowd not so underrepresented on screen. Were they as well represented in movies as they are in Washington, then surely I’d be echoing then-Variety critic Justin Chang in his savage takedown of a particularly bad prolonged adolescence indie when he called it “the latest American independent feature to suggest there are few things more intriguing than a young white guy trying to find himself.” But for what it is now, the film works just fine. B-

Advertisements




REVIEW: The Grand Budapest Hotel

3 06 2014

Just so we’re clear: I have no problems with auteurism.  For those of you who just saw a French word and panicked, I’m referring to a school of film criticism that looks for recurring patterns throughout the work of an artist (usually the director).  It can often be a very interesting lens through which to analyze a set of films, and auteurism has the ability to shine a light on filmmakers outside of the general circles of critical acclaim.

Like anything in life, the theory has a dark underbelly, and to me, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” represents the perils of auteurism run rampant.  The film is Wes Anderson’s “Django Unchained,” in the sense that it represents a moment of stasis in the progression of a great director.  Anderson is now more than a director; essentially, he’s a brand, expected by customers to deliver a certain consistency of product.

Put into the position of becoming a cinematic McDonald’s, Anderson takes the easy way out by providing an assembly-line reproduction of what he has already created to great admiration.  “The Grand Budapest Hotel” feels like a less vibrant remake of a film he’s already made – or, perhaps more accurately, it feels like all of them at once.  Despite being set in a semi-fictionalized interwar Central Europe, the world Anderson portrays seems reassembled from pieces of “Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Darjeeling Limited,” and even “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

Even more than Anderson’s last feature-length cinematic outing in 2012, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” takes his telltale stylistic flourishes and puts them to an exponential degree.  Every other take in the film had to be a tracking shot, so it seemed.  The cameos and other miscellaneous odd appearances by acclaimed thespians is now less of an amusing diversion and more of a distracting parade.  The off-beat characters feel less like quirky people and more like paper dolls traipsing around in the elegant house Anderson created for their frolicking delight.

Read the rest of this entry »