August 2010 Archives

Looking Forward

chloe-1.jpgAtom Egoyan has been on some kind of losing streak. Since his breakthrough masterpiece The Sweet Hereafter in 1997, his fiction features have gone from dense and compelling if awkward psychological dramas (1999’s Felicia’s Journey and 2002’s Ararat) to blunt, tone-deaf instruments to explore obsessions (2005’s Where the Truth Lies and 2008’s Adoration).

The shift is a subtle one, and the gap between artful and artless is in this case small. It looks to me that like the novelist Paul Auster, Egoyan ran out of new ways to narratively play out his interests; seemingly lacking the affinity and capacity for humor, thrills, and fully human characters — which can disguise a dearth of new ideas — both auteurs have in recent years tread water in an obvious and ugly fashion.

With the caveats that it’s a remake and not written by Egoyan, Chloe seems to chart a new path for the filmmaker, even though it collapses in a fit of silliness just as it threatens to become probingly nasty.

unbreakable-1.jpgIn the 10 years since I saw it in the movie theater, I’ve regularly planned to return to M. Night Shyamalan’s follow-up to The Sixth Sense. I wanted to see if it’s as strong as I remembered, and — as the writer/director’s star has fallen (and fallen, and fallen) — I was curious how this movie might look in the context of his career.

Sadly, Unbreakable hasn’t held up well. While I think it’s better than The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village, and Lady in the Water, it suffers from an inability to transcend the conceit. Shyamalan’s movies are never as compelling as their one-sentence pitches.

Dizzyingly fragmented, Welles’ ‘F for Fake’ builds layers of credible story exploring authenticity. ‘This is true, you know.’ No, you don’t.

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