This Week’s Movies in L.A., 8/11/07

42 Km Film

(This is a weekly one-stop resource for movies screening in L.A., with Rotten Tomatoes/Metacritic averages, showtimes and more. Almost all of these movies are also either currently screening outside of L.A. or will be in the near future.)

The sudden buzz about Romanian cinema reminds me, on a smaller scale of course, of when Korean movies were bursting out of the gate a few years back on the festival circuit. The Koreans, however, had the benefit of both a comparatively massive industry infrastructure and directors that were stylistically arresting and marketable. The Romanians, instead, are more tied together so far by content than style. They’ve scored three major socially-minded critical successes in the past year or so, and seem to practically specialize in the absurd. The first was last year’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, aka “Kafka-meets-an-Eastern-European-healthcare-system,” which follows a sick old man through a long, agonizing night as he tries to receive medical care. It is a flawless and eventually overwhelming film – one of the very few from last year that dared to achieve true greatness – and, relatedly, one I never want to see again. Then, Cristian Mungiu’s abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, by all accounts even bleaker than Mr. Lazarescu, earned the top prize and a flood of praise at Cannes this past May.

Arriving before it in theaters this week to noteworthy ink of its own is Corneliu Porumboiu’s 12:08 East of Bucharest. The film, set in a small town celebrating the anniversary of the fall of communist dictator Nicole Ceausescu, is said to be more lighthearted and comedic, but no less absurd, fare. Critics are particularly singling out its satiric half-hour centerpiece, unfolding in real time, in which the three main characters argue on live TV with both themselves and the call-in audience as to whether their town square (pictured above) protests took place before or after the dictator’s flight, and thus whether any of them qualify as revolutionary heroes.

The critical consensus says that none of the week’s other openings jump out: Rocket Science is good, but not as good as Rushmore; 2 Days in Paris is good, but not as good as Before Sunset; Stardust is OK, but not as good as The Princess Bride; Rush Hour 3 is bad, and not nearly as good as Rush Hour.


Note: RT and MC scores frequently change. Click on the movie titles for showtimes.

Avg. – RT – MC
96.0 – 9696Ratatouille
92.5 – 9788Once
92.0 – 9589The Lives of Others
91.5 – 9489No End in Sight
89.5 – 1007912:08 East of Bucharest
89.0 – 9385The Bourne Ultimatum
89.0 – 9187This is England
88.0 – 9185Knocked Up
87.0 – 9381Hairspray
84.5 – 8980The Simpsons Movie
83.5 – 8978Rescue Dawn
83.0 – 9274Sicko
81.5 – 8875Waitress
80.5 – 8972Rocket Science
79.5 – 8277Grindhouse
78.0 – 7581Lady Chatterley

This week’s openings, music-related films, and special screening picks after the jump. [Continue reading…]

Avg – RT – MC

89.5 – 1007912:08 East of Bucharest LAT ‘unexpected’LAW ‘Go’CB ‘with fangs’
80.5 – 8972Rocket Science LAT ‘debatable’LAW ‘ambivalent’CB ‘substantial’

Saturday at the New Beverly is Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love, which along with Mulholland Dr. is probably the most critically hailed film of this decade. And it’s no stretch to acknowledge that In the Mood is also one of the most visually controlled and expressive films ever made, so catching it on the big screen is a must. Playing with it on the double bill is its direct predecessor, 1991’s Days of Being Wild, the first in a loose trilogy rounded out by 2046 a few years back (in fact, if they count, the three very possibly form my favorite movie trilogy). Sunday, writer and director Edgar Wright appears in person for Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead.

The news just keeps getting better. Screening all week at the Nuart is a new 35mm print of Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou (1965). I caught it earlier this year in a double feature at the Hammer with Contempt, and the whole thing was a pretty incomparable experience. Pierrot Le Fou is especially interesting today not only because of its influence and canonical status, but also because it’s perhaps the most quintessentially ‘Godardian’ of all Godard’s films. First, it stands chronologically at a dividing point (along with Masculin Feminin) in Godard’s early career, near the end of his notorious seven-year run of untouchable filmmaking and right before he made the jump t
oward increasingly indulgent (though not always in a bad way) and politically didactic work. Second, Pierrot Le Fou manages a kitchen-sink encompassing of all the elements that made Godard Godard in those days – the love/hate relationship with American culture, near-mysogynistic view of relationships, Brechtian distanciation/self-awareness (characters talking to the camera and such), and even random musical numbers and a hilariously offensive reenactment of the Vietnam War by Godard’s two quintessential leads, Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo.


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