Daily Archives: October 4, 2007


Though less well-known than Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thai filmmaker Pen-ek Ratanaruang is in many ways as impressive a figure in his versatility, in features that usually work with more commercial genres (as in his 6ixtynin9 and Invisible Waves). This masterful art film is an exception, charting a few hours in the lives of several characters in which their fantasies and actual events are given equal amounts of attention. Returning to Bangkok for a funeral after a decade’s absence, a couple whose marriage seems to be foundering check into a luxury hotel in the middle of the night, and things grow especially edgy between them after the husband meets a teenage girl named Ploy in the bar downstairs and invites her to come upstairs while she waits for her mother to arrive. A film that perfectly captures the look and mood of jet lag and early dawn, with erotic tension to spare. In Thai with subtitles. 107 min. (JR) Read more

Her Wild Oat

I haven’t been able to preview this restoration of a silent comedy starring Colleen Moore, directed by the prolific Marshall Neilan and rediscovered by chance in the Czech Film Archive. But 1927 (a date curiously missing from the festival flyer) was clearly a much better year for Hollywood movies than 2007 has been so far, and David Drazin will be offering piano accompaniment, which alone should make this worth the price of admission. The story follows an orphaned tenement dweller (Moore) as she blows her savings by living it up at a beach resort, where she gets misidentified as a duchess. 90 min. (JR) Read more

4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Cristian Mungiu’s masterful chronicle of two young women negotiating for an illegal abortion in 1987 Romania over a 24-hour period, near the end of Ceausescu’s communist regime, is impressive above all for the way it respects the audience, expecting them to follow the implications of its multifaceted tale without always spelling them out. (When one of the women has to prostitute herself with the abortionist before he’ll agree to proceed, and pointedly keeps this fact from her boyfriend, we can already see their relationship foundering as a consequence.) Filmed in ‘Scope, largely in long takes, this is moving and gripping throughout. In Romanian with subtitles. 113 min. (JR) Read more

Becoming John Ford

Nick Redman’s uneven documentary about the great American filmmaker from his silent days through My Darling Clementine in 1946 — almost all of it in black and white and devoted to Ford’s films at Fox — often feels like a rough cut. Talking heads are identified belatedly or not at all while sometimes echoing one another, backtracking, and offering alternately solid scholarship (from Joseph McBride and Janet Bergstrom, among others), lazy misinformation (such as the claim that Pinky didn’t show anywhere in the south, or Ford’s own absurd boast that he eliminated farce from his films), and odd mixtures of the two. We hear both real and alleged statements by Ford (read by Walter Hill) and Darryl F. Zanuck (read by Ron Shelton), whose sources are never cited. With many glaring omissions en route (including Judge Priest at Fox and Stagecoach at RKO), this patchy survey does, however, have many incidental pleasures: Peter Fonda offers a great John Wayne imitation, and some of the clips are fabulous even when they aren’t identified. 94 min. (JR) Read more