Part of the problem is Hartley's distinct style, which, if you're a fan, you already know well. Characters often speak slowly, pausing pensively for dramatic or comedic effect. Conversations -- and camera angles -- are unexpectedly funny and skewed, dabbling in established genres. When this approach has purpose or emotion (as in Henry Fool), it works. When it runs in circles, as in the second-half of Fay Grim, it exists only for the "art" and can be annoying as hell.
Continue reading: Fay Grim Review
Described in the credits as "science fiction" (a pretty loose use of the term), The Girl From Monday represents another genre leap for Hartley, following his 2001 Beauty and the Beast fantasy, No Such Thing. Well, if you're a typical sci-fi fan, be forewarned: There are no special effects -- minus thugs in funny helmets -- and there's really nothing terribly innovative in the storyline department.
Continue reading: The Girl From Monday Review
The plot is this: Sofia is fed up with Thomas, so she tries to kill him. He doesn't die--he just cracks his head and develops amnesia. Isabelle finds him and takes him under her already fragile wing. Throw in an extortion plot wherein the old Thomas was trying to blackmail a nameless entity, and add the thugs trying to kill him. Eventually, everyone gets sucked into this scheme, and nothing works out for any of them.
Continue reading: Amateur Review
Sarah Polley, an exquisite actress, stars as a young journalist-wannabe named Beatrice (in pigtails, natch) who flies to Iceland to locate her boyfriend, who has gone missing along with his entire TV crew. Her plan crashes, she undergoes surgery to get fixed up, then continues on to Iceland where she discovers the fate of her guy: He was killed by a monster (played by Robert John Burke) who lives like a hermit in an abandoned building.
Continue reading: No Such Thing Review
The story turns mainly on the relationship between Queens garbage man Simon Grim (James Urbaniak) and Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan), a pretentious aesthete who drifts into Grim's life. Fool is thoroughly unlikeable - Ryan plays him as greasy, chain-smoking poseur, acting smarter than he actually is - but Simon clearly need somebody in his life. He's friendless, antisocial, and living with his mother and sister, who routinely berate him as retarded. Fool blathers on out his memoirs and opines about the difficult life of a genius ("An honest man is always in trouble," he opines), but he also encourages Simon to start writing himself. For Simon, that counts as friendship enough.
Continue reading: Henry Fool Review
Miles away from what we critics enjoy referring to as "visually austere" (i.e., static shots with careful compositions), The Book of Life throws caution to the wind. Working with new cinematographer Jim Denault (Boys Don't Cry) instead of old standby Michael Spiller (Trust), Hartley spins and fusses in colorful blurred abstractions, creating a dreamy, impressionistic look with none of his trademark hard edges. Look, ma -- no hands!
Continue reading: The Book Of Life Review
Roughly ten years after cementing his place as an offbeat indie favorite, Hal Hartley revisits...
I bet there's a really cool backstory behind No Such Thing. Its premise is...
After six feature films shot with the same "too hip to smile" minimalist approach, critic's...