Flickers of self-reflection and self-loathing dot the terrain of Alejandro Iñárritu’s Mexico-set semi-autobiographical seriocomedy Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (C-) as it leisurely meanders through its bloated running time. There are many ambitious ideas and a few lovely and dreamlike visual flourishes, but this film rarely transcends its bursts of inspiration. Daniel Giménez Cacho is a stand-in for the director, who is often quite passive in his own morality tale. Just as this tepid protagonist is caught between the worlds of his Mexican homeland and the Hollywood/America where he has immigrated, the film alternates between meta realism and smug fantasies. It’s all quite self-indulgent and mostly hangs like a punishing squawking albatross. The film feels a little bored with its own gimmickry and may have the same effect on audiences.
Tag Archives: International film
Movie Review: Parallel Mothers (2021)
Primary colors, twisty storylines and strong female characters abound in the directorial DNA as two moms embark on two very different and connected experiences against a searing political backdrop. The love child of a telenovela type story and Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar’s distinct sensibilities at the helm of Parallel Mothers (B+) makes for an engrossing and complex tale about exhuming the past, living in the moment and facing the future. Penélope Cruz is resplendent as the complicated protagonist, with a strong supporting turn by Milena Smit. Exquisite production design, a melodramatic score and a meditative framing device make this one of the director’s most accessible films, some parts sensational and others solemn. His themes about the trauma women carry across generations is prescient, but the puzzle of relationships along the way make it an engrossing journey.
Movie Review: Drive My Car (2021)
If the DeLorean is known for time travel and the Aston Martin a harbinger of glamorous espionage, this film’s cherry red Saab is now known as a vessel of truth. Ponderous, profound and poetic, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s drama Drive My Car (B) follows a stoic actor/director played by Hidetoshi Nishijima who grapples with grief in his personal life while directing an unconventional production of the play Uncle Vanya. He begins to surrender control when a young woman (Tōko Miura) is assigned to be his chauffeur, in one of those great Once-style relationships. This Japanese film achieves some additional gravitas due to the austere and revealing landscape of its Hiroshima setting, and its meta glimpse at emotional catharsis means the filmmaker can Chekhov all the boxes of the modern-day art house movie. It’s a delicate balance and a tad glum in parts and honestly sometimes a touch obvious in its musings about the nature of acting and the power of art to heal wounds. But it’s often a fascinating fugue on a variety of themes about loss, as characters alternately try to stick to the text and be moved by it. It’s also a gorgeously filmed travelogue into treacherous human territories with lots of slow-burn discoveries. In addition to the strong lead performances, Masai Okada is also entrancing as a troubled member of the troupe. Ultimately this is an emotionally rewarding road trip into the human condition likely to please cinephiles and completely confound others.