I was puzzled by some of Slate critic David Edelstein’s choices for best films of the year, but no matter. Point is that he hit the bulls-eye when he said that Rodrigo Garcia’s Nine Lives, released earlier this year, “boasts the best performance of the year, by Robin Wright Penn as a very pregnant woman who bumps into her old flame in a supermarket. As she circles the store with her grocery cart, her face alternately flushed and ashen, it’s as if we’re looking directly into her soul.”
Woody Allen’s Match Point “is a champagne cocktail laced with strychnine,” observes New York Times critic A.O. Scott. “You would have to go back to the heady, amoral heyday of Ernst Lubitsch or Billy Wilder to find cynicism so deftly turned into superior entertainment. Mr. Allen’s accomplishment here is to fool his audience, or at least to misdirect us, with a tale whose gilded surface disguises the darkness beneath. Comparisons to Crimes and Misdemeanors are inevitable, since the themes and some elements of plot are similar, but the philosophical baggage in Match Point is more tightly and discreetly packed. It is the film’s brisk, chilly precision that makes it so bracingly pleasurable. The gloom of random, meaningless existence has rarely been so much fun, and Mr. Allen’s bite has never been so sharp, or so deep. A movie this good is no laughing matter .”
Legend has it there’s a significant clue at the very end of Michael Haneke’s Cache (Sony Pictures Classics, 1.11.06)…some kind of visual tipoff about who’s behind the stealth videotaping of Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche’s home, lives, histories, etc. Esquire film writer Mike D’Angelo mentions the clue in a current piece. The clue has something to do with the son of a certain ill-fated Algerian character seen talking to a guy named Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). Or maybe something to do with a black car driving by three times, or a blue station wagon…I’m a little hazy on the details. Anyone who’s seen Cache (also known as Hidden) knows the motive for the tapings has something to do with shameful French treatment of Algerians in the early ’60s. Cache star Daniel Autiel allegedly told a gathering at the London Film Festival several weeks ago that he’d seen the film three times and didn’t know where the tapes had come from either and neither to his knowledge did Haneke. This film isn’t a whodunit anyway. I don’t know what to call it but it’s way too smart to be concerned with matters of culpability. It’s more into arty obfuscation.
A whole lotta noteworthy critics have submitted their Top Ten films of ’05 lists to Movie City News, and Capote is third-ranked with 242 points, only 8 and 1/2 points behind the second-ranked A History of Violence with 255.5 points. (Top-ranked Brokeback Mountain is way in front with 299.5 points.) Good Night, and Good Luck (212 points) and King Kong (191.5 points) are fourth and fifth-ranked. But if you look at Rotten Tomatoes, which posts another critical ranking system, Capote has the 2nd highest general rating among these five (92%) and the only unani- mous creme de la creme rating (100%) for a tally of 192. The other four’s RT ratings, highest to lowest: Good Night (95% general, creme 95% = 190), Violence (86% general, 94% creme = 180), Brokeback (90% general, 90% creme = 180), and Kong (83% general, 76% creme = 159). What does this mean? Nothing much…who cares what the critics think?…but maybe (and I think the conclusion is obvious) Academy members should guard against considering Capote in a casual light.