I’m in the middle of renovation hell — did you know that little shutoff valve for a bathroom sink can be hidden so well not even four grown adults will be able to find it? — so this week’s movie roundup will be brief.
Fortunately, there aren’t that many new movies …
“Evening“: Susan Minot’s novel becomes a simpering, borderline unwatchable Woman’s Picture thanks to the combined idiocy of screenwriter Michael Cunningham, who seems compelled to force the same gay-martyr character into everything he touches, and director Lajos Koltai, who demonstrates the same dull literalism he brought to his profanely beautiful Holocaust drama “Fateless”. As for the exceptional cast (Redgrave! Streep! Close! Atkins! Danes! Collette! Um, another Redgrave! Another Streep!), this was probably a chance to spend a few weeks in one another’s company, enjoying some lovely craft services and bed-and-breakfast accommodations. The movie is just the unfortunate byproduct of their working vacation.
“Let’s All Hate Toronto“: That cutesy provocateur thing Albert Nerenberg did with “Stupidity” and “Escape to Canada” is getting a little tired now, as evidenced in this repetitive and way too long cross-country trek to explore the rest of the country’s resentment and loathing of what is clearly the best city on the continent. Honestly, I think they’re only ticked off because they don’t live here themselves.
“Red Road“: Shot in a murky DV verite, pushing ever closer into the mind of its broken heroine, Andrea Arnold’s minimalist character study about a Glaswegian CCTV minder who becomes obsessed with a man she glimpses on one of her screens is a grim, powerful debut. Not quite the stuff of a summer blockbuster, I know, but it’s a great antidote for blockbuster fatigue.
“Ratatouille“: Brad Bird and Pixar follow “The Incredibles” with another beautifully realized animated adventure, this one revolving around a rat who finds a way to realize his forbidden dream of becoming a chef. It’s not quite the perfect construction that “The Incredibles” was, but it’s marvelous all the same, and I figure we have about six days before Bill O’Reilly and the other right-wing nut jobs attack it for its subtle alternative-lifestyle allegory.
“Sicko”: Speaking of cutesy provocateurs, Michael Moore returns with his latest hot-button documentary, and this one — about the perfect disgrace America’s private health-care system has become — is built around an argument that simply can’t be contradicated, with wrenching examples of people abandoned to their illnesses by their insurance companies, either through bureaucratic indifference or intentional malfeasance. I just wish he could have eased off on the yokel stuff, and maybe provide a little more context to the international segments. Like, say, who Tommy Douglas was, and why Canadians thank him for their health care in the film. I mean, he’s Jack Bauer’s grandfather — it’s not like Americans wouldn’t get that joke.
Plumber’s coming, with the building plans … keep your fingers crossed.