Friday, October 31, 2008

Three You Might Have Missed

Here are three excellent, and largely unseen, new releases. The first is still playing in theaters, the other two have made their way to DVD. Check them out.

1. Frozen River-so far this the best movie I've seen this year. Directed by Courtney Hunt, it stars Melissa Leo as a woman desperate to raise money to support her family. She accepts a "job" with a young Mohawk woman (Misty Upham) transporting illegals over the Canada/US border. This is a taut, moving, beautiful piece of work. Leo and Upham are terrific.

2. The Fall-there was nothing released this year that comes anywhere close to the visual ecstasy of this stunning piece of work by Tarsem Singh. A little Romanian girl in 1920s Hollywood is convalescing in a hospital when she meets a disturbed young stunt man. He's in the hospital after a possible suicide attempt. They become friends and he begins to tell her a story. We see the story through her fecund imagination. This is a visual masterpiece, a rich, invigorating piece of cinema.

3. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford-when I saw this movie in the theater late last year half of the audience got up and left. It's long, slowly paced and thick with an unspoken homoeroticism. Not exactly what most people expect from a western starring Brad Pitt as Jesse James. It is a fine piece of work, though, a revisionist Western in the mold of Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller or Hellman's The Shooting. Casey Affleck gives a disturbing performance as Robert Ford, giving the famous assassin a humanity no one's ever attempted.

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