Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2009 at 1:20 PM

The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is showing several great movies this weekend. Here are our reviews of some of them.

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$9.99 (Israel/Australia, 2008) Based on several Etgar Keret short stories, $9.99 is a stop-motion animation film that aspires to be something like Waking Life. The central character Dave Peck (Samuel Johnson) is a philosopher who can’t find a job, frustrating his dad (Anthony LaPaglia) to no end. But when Dave sees an ad for a book that will tell him the meaning of life, he sends in the $9.99 and wants to tell everyone about it. But they’re too busy: His brother Lenny is a lowlife repo man who’s obsessed with trying to date a supermodel; his father is too angry with his unemployed son; and even the telemarketer he gets on the phone doesn’t want to listen to him. But unlike Waking Life, this slow-moving, disjointed film never quite gels. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 and 8:40 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4. ** 1/2 (Jeff Niesel)

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Revanche (Austria, 2008) The lives of several characters intertwine in Revanche, although their connections don’t become clear until you’re well into this methodical thriller. There’s ex-con Alex, his immigrant prostitute girlfriend Tamara, Alex’s farmer grandfather, the old man’s neighbor and her policeman husband. But it takes some time for much to happen. Characters are introduced, a few plot points are laid out — but it’s all setup for Alex’s plan to rob a bank to help Tamara pay her debts. “Revanche” means “revenge,” so you know something bad happens. This well-acted and slow-simmering movie (which was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar this year) certainly builds tension as Alex hides out on his grandpa’s farm and plots his vengeance. As characters begin to fall into each others’ lives, Revanche settles into its groove. Director Götz Spielmann can’t quite sustain the momentum for two hours, but Revanche is a tidy little film about obsession, despair and accountability. But mostly it’s about fate and how it tangles everyone within its reach. At 9:10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, and 3:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4. *** (Michael Gallucci)

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The Windmill Movie (US, 2008) Mostly comprising unused footage from an autobiographical film that the late documentarian Richard P. Rogers never got around to finishing, Alexander Olch’s posthumous tribute to his onetime college professor inevitably succumbs to narcissistic navel-gazing and feels awfully overextended even at 80 minutes.
A son of wealth and privilege who spent a good chunk of his adult life rebelling against his cosseted upbringing, Rogers was also an inveterate womanizer, hopping from bed to bed until finally marrying the love of his life shortly before dying from brain cancer. As a study of intellectual hubris, there’s a certain clinical fascination to Rogers’ examination of his own pathology. But taken as the story of one man’s life — and myriad obsessions — it feels both frustratingly incomplete and unsatisfying. Preceding the feature is "Quarry," a brilliant 12-minute short Rogers made in 1967 that’s an astonishingly vivid time capsule of the period. It’s also vastly superior to any of the material collated in Olch’s movie. Perhaps Rogers peaked at any early age and his adult frustration stemmed from never being able to recapture the promise of youth. At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1 and 9:35 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. ** 1/2 (Milan Paurich)

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