It has been a somewhat crowded week for indieWIRE reviews. (And a big week for indieWIRE's history.) Links to coverage of this weekend's new releases follow.
YOU WONT MISS ME
Ry Russo-Young’s “You Wont Miss Me” wound up in the experimental New Frontiers section at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, and won the Best Film Coming to a Theater Near You prize at the Gotham Awards that fall. It arrives in limited release nearly two years after the initial premiere with a long trail of responses that speak to its divisive nature. Is Russo-Young’s sophomore feature a feeble collection of “pointless pseudo-Cassavetes stumblings-mumblings,” as Robert Koehler complained in Cinemascope, or “a film about the inner life of a beautiful, troubled young lady without the objectifying filter of the male gaze,” per former Spout critic Karina Longworth? The not-so-simple answer is both.
HEMINGWAY'S GARDEN OF EDEN
“Everything is right until it’s wrong,” says one character in “Hemingway’s Garden of Eden,” and smirks. “You’ll know when it’s wrong.” The line has been lifted verbatim from the source, Ernest Hemingway’s enigmatic and allegedly autobiographical novel published a quarter century after his death. But in the context of this half-baked adaptation, it sounds more like self-critique: Early on, it becomes clear that much is wrong with “Garden of Eden,” which squeezes grand literary gestures into clumsy soap opera terms.
Wildly uneven and about as entertaining, “The Fighter” is committed to the rambunctious masculine energy of the boxing ring. Sustained by a triple threat of performances by Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams, David O. Russell’s dramatization of star boxing brothers “Irish” Mickey Ward (Wahlberg) and half-brother Dicky Eklund (Bale) sticks to the old-fashioned trajectory of the sports movie mold. Russell navigates the usual hoops with more efficiency than the market standard, relying on naturalistic performances and speedy momentum to keep viewers hooked, but never reaches the uniquely sardonic tone present in the rest of his work (“I Heart Huckabees,” “Three Kings”). Eccentricity takes a backseat to the familiar.
Claude Lanzmann doesn’t want to speak to me. The now-legendary French director of “Shoah,” a nine-and-half hour chronicle of the systematic murdering process behind Hitler’s Final Solution, has been doing interviews all day from a hotel room in lower Manhattan. He was 60 when “Shoah” hit theaters in 1985 and quickly gained status as the quintessential Holocaust documentary; now, at 85, he can’t hear too well, his English skills have started to wane, and his threshold for conversation has apparently diminished as well. Moments before I enter the room, he decides he’s done for the day. The filmmaker, like the subject of his most famous movie, cannot escape the trappings of time.