29 March 2019.
Lots of films to cover, so these will be short reviews. Get out there and see the good ones.
THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS ****
This exceptional documentary by Tim Wardle, about separated triplets who find each other only at age 19, starts off as a heart-warming revelation but slowly turns into a darker, more tragic story.
Its many layers delving into the loving connection of the boys despite their lengthy separation, the strange adoption practices that tore them apart, clandestine scientific research, and questions of nature versus nurture are brilliantly presented in a suspenseful, almost Hitchcockian manner. As one of them says, “…it goes from amazing to incredible…”. Masterfully edited and with shades of the chilling 1978 thriller “The Boys from Brazil”, it will leave you both elated and stunned.
ZWINGLI – LE RÉFORMATEUR ***1/2 (vo Swiss German)
Ulrich Zwingli was probably the most open-minded, avant-garde religious reformer of them all.
Stefan Haupt’s beautifully filmed tribute to Zwingli’s courage and accomplishments during the early 1500s is also an important historical testament to the very open-minded city of Zurich at a time when the hearts and minds of the people were suppressed by the harsh doctrines of the Catholic Church. Zwingli preached for holding mass in the language of the people rather than incomprehensible Latin. He preached for caring for the poor, eradicating illiteracy, allowing priests to marry. We would need him again today. This is an important and illuminating slice of history of which the Swiss can be very proud.
LA NOCHE DE 12 AÑOS *** (vo Spanish)
What a marvelous ending…Jose ‘Pepe’ Mujica, the resistant fighter against the Uruguayan military dictatorship who spent 12 excruciating years of his life in solitary confinement, became president of Uruguay in 2010, years after he and his compatriots were freed. This inspiring, award-winning film by Alvaro Brechner takes us through Mujica’s horrendous years, along with his two comrades, as they are hauled from one harsh prison to another, communicating only through thick walls.
Despite the darkness and misery, Brechner has created a compelling, passionate hymn to resistance and perseverance. (showing at the Grutli cinemas)
QUI M’AIME ME SUIVE! **1/2 (vo French)
Two men are longtime friends and neighbors in a small town in southern France. But all along, the wife of one has been the mistress of the other. Only the French could make such a tale into an easy-going romp where the wife ends up flipping from one to the other, becoming liberated as a blossoming, fulfilled woman. It’s amusing and terrifically French, especially with the wonderful Catherine Frot, Daniel Auteuil and Bernard Le Coq as the trio in their late-blooming 60s.
In a much lesser register, this may be today’s “Jules et Jim” (from 1962, with Jeanne Moreau), or the step-child of the superb “César et Rosalie”, with Romy Schneider and Yves Montand.
LA CHUTE DE L’EMPIRE AMÉRICAIN **1/2 (vo French Canadian)
Director Denys Arcand is the old master of French Canadian cinema. With this film he closes his trilogy on the decline of the western world, this time with a sort of comic heist that illustrates the worst evil of all, money.
In a slow version of a Guy Ritchie yarn, he has his egghead hero come upon a huge stash of stolen money, with no witnesses around. What he does with the loot is the convoluted gist of the film, involving a wizened criminal with great investment ideas, some tough mafia types, the vigilant police, and a new girlfriend. It’s fun, but not as important as the previous two.
SUNSET *1/2 (vo Hungarian)
In 2015, Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes came out with a tragic masterpiece called “Son of Saul”, which deservedly ran away with a slew of top awards, worldwide. So one would expect another gem, but unfortunately this maudlin, heavy melodrama about the problems and downfall of the bourgeoisie in pre-WWI Budapest is a dull, muddled letdown, despite some rich cinematography. Just skip it.
KING OF THIEVES (Gentlemen Cambrioleurs) –
Now this is truly the bottom of the barrel – getting all the usual suspects together – Michael Caine, Tom Courtney, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone – for a last big London jewelry heist. With the dismal pace and dialogue you might fall asleep before the oldies get to the safe deposit boxes. An embarrassing waste of tired talent.
This one is just as embarrassingly bad, but supposedly aimed at the kiddy crowd. A circusy film that could/should have been a delight falls flat with a terrible script, useless direction by the usually excellent Tim Burton, and wooden performances by the generally reliable Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton. Even Dumbo the flying baby elephant can’t save this ho-hum fiasco. What went wrong?
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.