Kailey is in Toronto, Dan is in rainy Wellington and between them they review Kelly Reichardt’s “thriller” Night Moves and the dystopian nightmare of The Giver starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and some kids, plus Robin Wright playing several versions of herself in Ari Folman’s The Congress.
It’s no disgrace to come second at Cannes to Michael Haneke’s Amour, especially so when your film is Rust and Bone. Writer-director Jacques Audiard has a track record of unsettling and confronting dramas, starting (for New Zealand audiences) with Read My Lips in 2001 and – most recently – prison drama A Prophet in 2009. Rust and Bone is equally rugged but with some beauty to balance the violence and despair.
Acadamy Award-winner Marion Cotillard is the big name on the marquee but the film really belongs to Matthias Schoenaerts who lays down a portrait of wounded masculinity as riveting as any of De Niro’s classic performances. He’s Alain, a drifter and waster who lands in picturesque Antibes with his young son. He’s useful in a scrap but useless as a parent and some of the most difficult scenes in the film are of him failing to look after the boy.
As usual, the vagaries of holiday deadlines mean that, just as you are arriving back at work to gleefully greet the New Year, here I am to tell you all about 2012. The best way to use this page is to clip it out, fold it up and put it in your pocket ready for your next visit to the video shop – that way you won’t go wrong with your renting. Trust me – I’m a professional.
But this year I have a problem. Usually I manage to restrict my annual picks to films that were commercially released to cinemas. I’ve always felt that it wasn’t fair to mention films that only screened in festivals – it’s frustrating to be told about films that aren’t easy to see and it makes it difficult for you to join in and share the love. This year, though, if I take out the festival-only films the greatness is hard to spot among the only “good”.
As usual, I have eschewed a top ten in favour of my patented categories: Keepers, Watch Again, Mentioned in Dispatches and Shun At All Costs. In 2012, only two of my nine Keepers (films I wish to have close to me forever) made it into commercial cinemas and one of them isn’t even really a film.
In Hope Springs, Meryl Streep proves once again that not only can she play any woman, she can also play everywoman. She’s Kay, an unfulfilled Nebraska housewife, married for 31 years to accountant Tommy Lee Jones and resigned to sleeping in separate bedrooms and cooking him his eggs every morning while he reads the paper. Except, she’s not resigned, she’s become determined. Determined to prove that marriage doesn’t just fizzle out after the kids leave home, that the past doesn’t have to equal the future.
So, she signs them both up for “intensive couples counselling” with friendly therapist Steve Carell, in picturesque seaside Maine. Jones is gruffly resistant, of course, and it’s his deadpan sarcasm that prompts nost of the early comedy (their fumbling attempts to spice up their life provides the rest). As a comedy, Hope Springs is extremely gentle – much more gentle than the trailer would have you believe – but that gentleness suits the delicate subject and the script (by Vanessa Taylor) actually burrows in pretty deeply to a subject that, I’m sure, is pretty close to home for lots of viewers.
It’s Back to BOURNE with Jeremy Renner; Meryl Streep gets it on with Tommy Lee Jones in HOPE SPRINGS; Hirokazu Koreeda’s I WISH is a little gem and we talk to the directors of the New Zealand documentary HOW FAR IS HEAVEN.