You, the Living (2007)
Writer/director Roy Andersson's You, The Living (2007) is the first film from the 66-year-old Norwegian filmmaker since his critically-acclaimed (and yet sadly, virtually-ignored) Songs From the Second Floor in 2001. I stumbled across it researching and assembling lists for the upcoming summer flyer and don't recall reading or hearing about it before that.
You, the Living picks up where Songs left off – it's another bizarrely-low-key, absurdist comedy with plenty to say about the modern human condition. The film is a collection of vignettes, mostly shot in medium length and framed like video portraits within drably-urban Scandinavian backdrops. Its droll, Tati-meets-Monty-Python sensibilities will turn many off, but buried in these grim little snapshots is a thread of insightful commentary about our modern existence that I often find missing in English-language cinema. You, the Living is the inverse of a film like Up in the Air. Where Reitman bangs us over the head with broad state-of-society strokes and George Clooney, Roy Andersson's story telling is supremely subtle and populated with dumpy regular folk. For me, it was 100 times more effective and a had much more to say with about a 10th as much dialogue.
Shutter Island (2009)
One of the prices we're beginning to pay for our Apple-sponsored existence these days manifests itself in the mixed reaction to Martin Scorsese's latest film. Shutter Island is a brilliant film, amongst the very best American films I've seen this year, but it fell flat at the box office and couldn't find an audience. I think it might be the film that marks Scorsese entrance into irrelevance as a working director. The typical film audience has changed in recent years, in ways that are becoming clearer each day, as a world of effortless instant-everything settles into place. Film and TV have not been spared the collapse of attention spans either and a film like Shutter Island doesn't work with today's audience, at least in part because it requires they indulge the filmmaker enough latitude to develop/frame DiCaprio's character before the reveal. I could be way off base here, but the art of storytelling is changing and I think the Scorsese/Eastwood School is falling out of favour.
That said, there's much to savour here for fans of traditional cinema.