Though the story’s early stretches feel slender and repetitive, Cheung gathers the undertow of atmosphere and emotion for a beautifully realized final half-hour, matching the striking visuals with involving, unpredictable interactions.
Having made a number of well-regarded, female-focused short films, the Icelandic director graduates to features with a sure grasp of naturalistic performance and an eye for character-shaping landscape.
To the filmmakers' credit, and even though they don't entirely avoid the clunky factoid-itis that often plagues the genre, this is a biopic that favors sensory experience over exposition. It understands what pure, electrifying fun rock 'n' roll can be.
It's great to look at, nearly giddy with pop-culture love, and its particulars are intriguing. But those pieces — by turns weird, soulful and exhilarating — merely accumulate, when they should be generating magic.
Greene is concerned with Western mythology and the interplay of past and present in Bisbee's self-dramatization. His intense focus on individuals can feel limiting in terms of the overall truth-and-reconciliation dynamic, but it also leads to some powerful moments. And the story's contemporary resonance couldn't be clearer.
The child's discovery of the beauty of nature, the workaday brutalities of farm life and the adult world's disappointments and betrayals rings true, to a point, and the young actor in the role is memorably guarded and watchful. In Hjörleifsdóttir's adaptation, though, the themes are too studied and neat, playing out in a way that can feel oppressive rather than revelatory.
Transposing the Athenian comedy to Southern California, Casey Wilder Mott takes his bow as a feature director with a sensuous, silly and superbly cast version, one whose visually vibrancy matches its feel for the language.
The film is, at its strongest, an inspiring sensory immersion in that performance, one in which the (mostly unidentified) plants are the stars. A complex, dimensional portrait of Oudolf never quite emerges, though, and the brief doc, however lovely, lacks an essential dynamism that would make it truly compelling.
The movie is a testament to the star power of Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, who, as the longtime friends at the center of a run-of-the-mill comedy, are the only reasons to see it.
Working in an improvisatory vein, in actual locations rather than constructed sets, writer-director Dominic Savage gives this story of a married woman's despair and awakening a powerful, lived-in immediacy. It's also the story of a man's struggle to understand his wife's pain, and the tortured, tender chemistry between leads Arterton and Dominic Cooper is profoundly affecting, at times shattering.
The writing and direction of Public Schooled put a bright spin on high-school antics, and the ace cast makes the grade, led by Judy Greer's long-proven down-to-earth magic and the deft physical comedy of Daniel Doheny.
Through it all, Ellington's performance remains effortlessly subtle and lived-in, bringing unexpected depth to the quiet play of emotion on the character's face and giving this loopy episodic tale its heart.
As it follows him over a five-year period, into hotel gatherings and danger zones, James Demo's sharp-eyed documentary lays waste to any assumption that inner peace is a requisite for O'Malley's urgent work.