Time of the Wolf

Saw this last night. I came to it as a general fan of the director Michael Haneke, whose “Funny Games” was a brilliant provocation (and scarily funny) and “Code Inconnu” was smart, complexly attentive to social injustices and personal desires,…. (And, no, I haven’t seen “The Piano Teacher,” about which a bunch of us would surely and with great vigor disagree.) Both films are very smart, and I walked away from ’em thinking myself very smart for having seen them and liked them. I felt nothing, beyond that intellectual engagement.

I wept–like a fucking baby–at the end of “Time of the Wolf.” The story is post-some-vague-apocalypse, and society’s broken down. We follow a few survivors–mostly one family (Isabelle Huppert and two children)–as they get by. And that’s about it; not much momentous happens. It’s beautifully shot, the acting is pitch-perfect, and the scenario seems utterly realist (carefully attentive to the small details, unconcerned with the big picture).

And the emotional wallop of the final two scenes caught me so off-guard I did, literally, break down and cry. I haven’t done that since The Butterfly Effect. Ok, I’m kidding about Butterfly. But has anyone else seen Wolf? Was this just some random emotional charge, brought on by too little sleep and underlying anxiety about my kid growing up? Or was the film as effective as it seemed?

cate blanchett–is there anyone better?

among major’ish stars, that is? i was reminded by her amazing double act in coffee and cigarettes of just how good an actress she is. only naomi watts comes close i think. laura linney is also very good but not exactly a star. kidman can turn it on when she wants to but she also does things like cold mountain. whatever happened to judy davis, by the way?

for those who haven’t seen it, i would highly recommend blanchett in the gift, which also features great performances from giovanni ribisi and yes, keanu reeves.

Million $ Baby

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were discussing “Unforgiven” and I regret that we didn’t have this blog to debate the merits of “Space Cowboys,” but perhaps we can cover “Mystic River” and this new one in the same set of posts.

I truly want to dislike Clint Eastwood. He’s like Robert Redford’s darker, reactionary twin spending way too much time exploring/confirming theories of masculinity and running out of steam by the time he fills in the women’s roles around the edges of his screenplays. But he’s also a compelling filmmaker and one of the few who thoughtfully explores American myths.

I really liked this film and fell for every one of the manipulative plot twists. But just as I can’t quite forgive him for Marcia Gay Harden’s unredeemable weakness and Laura Linney’s out-of-nowhere Lady Macbeth-ness in “Mystic River”, I think he demonstrated profound laziness in creating some of this film’s supporting characters.