Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

Posted By on Thu, Nov 26, 2009 at 9:53 AM

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

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Beeswax (U.S., 2009) Mumblecore auteur Andrew Bujalski continues his survey of the French New Wave he began with Funny Ha Ha and 2005’s superb Mutual Appreciation. In the writer/director/actor’s third feature, Eric Rohmer serves as Bujalski’s guiding muse. Two sisters, responsible Jeannie (Tilly Hatcher) and free spirit Lauren (Maggie Hatcher), clash over the running of the vintage clothing store they’re partners in. As usual in Bujalski films — and mumblecore projects in general — little of consequence transpires. Life, however, is lived in all of its fly-on-the-wall, warts-and-all boho-hipster glory. If the filmmaking wasn’t so rigorously disciplined, the naturalness of the writing and performances (the Hatchers are actual twins) might lead you to believe that you’re watching real lives unfold. Bujalski again proves that he’s one of the most interesting young directors on the independent film scene. At 9:35 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30. *** 1/2 (Milan Paurich)

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Cloud Nine (Germany, 2008) It’s not even five minutes into the infidelity drama Cloud 9 when two senior citizens get naked and go at it. Get used to it: There are plenty of senior moments here, with old people fornicating, performing oral sex, masturbating and doing things you usually don’t see Grandma and Grandpa doing on camera. Make no mistake: You’re not looking at Brad and Angelina. These people are wrinkly and sagging. Director Andreas Dresen doesn’t turn away from his aged actors. At one point, there’s a long, unbroken shot of his star checking out her naked body in a mirror. In fact, there are many long, silent moments in Cloud 9, and they all add up to one of the most honest representations of senior-citizen sex you’ll ever see onscreen. But none of it is exploitative in this moving film about sixtysomething Inge (Ursula Werner) who’s having an affair with 76-year-old Karl (Horst Westphal). At 7:35 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28 and at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29. *** (Michael Gallucci)

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Juliet of the Spirits (Italy/France, 1965) Federico Fellini’s phantasmagoria, his first film in color, is said by some to be the female version of his autobiographical classic 8 1/2. Fellini’s wife, pixie-like actress Giulietta Masina, plays the title character, an affluent Italian housewife surrounded by a kaleidoscope of gurus, friends, memories, admirer/suitors, orgies and temptations, most of which are spirits raised by fears that her husband, a gentlemanly but distant sort often absent, is having an extramarital affair with a younger woman. She wavers on hiring detectives to follow him while engulfed (like the indecisive, creatively blocked filmmaker-hero of 8 1/2) by surreal memories — in this case a Catholic-school girlhood, a scandalous father, and temptations and liberation symbolized by the sexpot next door. Any way you slice it, Juliet (or every other female in sight, real or imagined) just isn’t very smart. So she’d be the last one to ask what-the-PMS-hell the cryptic ending means. Oh well, it’s Federico's world (never mind that it’s supposed to be Giulietta’s); we're just visiting. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, and 8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30. *** (Charles Cassady Jr.)

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