Patrick Cassavetti

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Only Human Review


OK
When the original Father of the Bride came out in 1950, it became clear that pre-wedding ceremonies were fertile land for moviemaking. It has spawned great movies (Late Marriage), great comedies (Meet the Parents),and a heap of charming but forgettable variants (chief example: My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Dominic Harari and Teresa De Pelegri's Only Human wants to be a great comedy but has moments of schizophrenia where it also wants to be serious. Head scratching is imminent.Rafi (Guillermo Toledo) has small lakes underneath his armpits from perspiration. His fiancée Leni (Marian Aguilera) suggests a quickie in the elevator before they reach her parents' apartment. There is much surprise when Leni's mother, Gloria (the fantastic Norma Aleandro), opens her arms without trouble to Rafi. The entire family, including an orthodox brother, a nymphomaniac sister, and a blind, war-obsessed grandfather, is happy to meet the shambling professor. That is, until they find out he is Palestinian. Gloria throws a fit, Leni threatens to leave, and Rafi gets so nervous that he accidentally throws a huge block of frozen soup out the window and almost kills a person.The wackiness only gets more demented as the injured man is dragged into the bus of a prostitute and the family invades Leni's father's office in an attempt to prove he is philandering. One could easily cast the film off as another in a long line of Meet the Parents-like escapades, but the comedy that is achieved here rings a much darker tone. Leni often questions the idea of morality in the face of staying with Rafi, who she loves more than her stature in god's eyes. Gloria often spills to both her girls that her sex life is all but dead and considers lesbianism.Trouble arises in a blunt, somewhat shameful argument that takes place between Leni and Rafi in the family bathroom. Where the political strife between the cultures had been a trembling bass line behind the humorous clamor, this argument suddenly forces all the implied attention into the opening. She spits angry sentiment about Palestine while he pushes back with generalizations about both the Jewish people and their faith. The actors strain to make this argument relative and real, but the scene is so obvious and turns all the film's energy into dead air. That clink you hear in the background is a wrench hitting the gears.For what is familiar territory by now, however, Only Human packs in the laughs and has an interesting enough array of characters. Its attempt at mixing the tommy-gun laughs of the Meet the Parents films and the venomous culture and class lines of Late Marriage isn't without its bravery and ingenuity, but it comes off clumsily and often puts the viewer in an awkward state of falling out of interest with the characters. The film succeeds in its bewildering dark sentiments but pushes them farther than they need to go.By the way, did you hear the one about the Palestinian and the Fundamentalist Christian who were stuck on an island together?Aka Seres queridos.

Mona Lisa Review


Excellent
Neil Jordan knows movies are a form of art. While much of his work carries a distinctive artistic style, his involving 1986 drama Mona Lisa even carries the title of the famous painting of a dark, serene, mysterious woman with a slight grin on her face -- the Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa shares much in common with that painting. The film contains a female character who is serene, dark, and mysterious. It doesn't take a genius, however, to comprehend that the leading actress here is a lot sexier than the woman in the painting.

Continue reading: Mona Lisa Review

Intimacy Review


Good
The uncompromising nudity bared throughout Petrice Chereau's Intimacy has already garnered much notoriety, but it's in the naked faces of fearless actors Mark Rylance (Angels & Insects) and Kerry Fox (Welcome To Sarajevo) that the tender ache of emotional resonance is discovered. With sharp, intelligent eyes that reflect experience and maturity, Rylance and Fox are refreshingly detached from the false glamour of Hollywood idols. Their sex scenes together are bracing in their raw honesty, in the acceptance of flesh and messiness. Less apparent, but no less remarkable, are the astute observations of behavior revealed through those carnal beats of haste and hesitance, often without a single line of dialogue.

Not aiming for the spiritual poetry of In the Realm of the Senses or the philosophical transgressions of Crash, Chereau keeps his sexual odyssey firmly grounded in terms of straightforward character development. That may be the very reason why Intimacy seems unerringly impressive but never particularly significant on more than a tactile, sensory level. The themes of human isolation are barren and obvious, a science project devoid of any especially groundbreaking hypothesis. Intimacy does manage to stand out from lesser portraits of "human interconnectedness" and Pinter-esque rummages through psychological dirty drawers (okay, kill me). Shallow though it might sound, it's amazing how much is filled in through an inspired cast, perceptive camerawork, and imaginative ways of treating the love scene. Those ingredients are too assured and confident to merely dismiss as icing on the cake, especially since they are the substance of the cake itself.

Continue reading: Intimacy Review

Emma Review


Grim
O! The plight of wealthy twentysomethings in England at the beginning of the 19th century.

Such is the rather large pill you are supposed to swallow if you truly want to enjoy Emma, the latest in the incessant parade of increasingly bad adaptations of so-called "classic" novels.

Continue reading: Emma Review

American Friends Review


Weak
A quaint true story, American Friends tells the dated fable of an Oxford scholar (Palin) in the mid 1800s who wrestles with abandoning his teaching post at the no-girls-allowed institution in order to run off to the mountains with an American girl (Alvarado). Not quite your Merchant-Ivory bodice-ripper, this tame little number likely wouldn't have even been made if it wasn't about Palin's great grandfather... Hmm...

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas Review


Good
You might be tempted to dismiss Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a curiosity, an attempt to exploit the pockets of fame enjoyed by Hunter S. Thompson and director Terry Gilliam.

When I first saw the film in 1998, that's what I did.

Continue reading: Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas Review

Patrick Cassavetti

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