"Walken Hair" dominates this week's new release slate....

City Island is one of those films that takes a while to get going. About 15 minutes into this Andy Garcia-produced dysfunctional-family indie-comedy, I wondered where it was all going. The same thought crossed my mind at about 30 minutes and then again about the hour mark. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but there also isn't anything particularly right with it either. It plays out like a sit-com with a good cast. Nothing more. I sat through to the end mostly because I didn't have anything better to do. Perhaps I've become just a little too jaded to slurp up another Little Miss Sunshine wanna-be, but this one is best left for the oldsters and bland hipster crowd. It's not horrible, just predictable, dull and sentimental. Alan Arkin is in it briefly (again). Garcia stars and does a decent job, the rest of the cast delivers nicely as well. Ho-hum. Recommend it to the 50+ crowd.

I simply can't explain the 81% it received on Rottentomatoes.com

The Christopher Walken indie-comedy $5 a Day also releases this week. Strangely, this film also centres on a father/son relationship that mirrors the one in City Island. Seems everyone in the movies these days has an ex-con family member and not just Kadas. Give this one a pass unless you just love Walken and don't mind seeing him in a film we've all seen a dozen times before. Some good moments and nice casting again, but this is an airplane movie at best.

Walken's hair, however, is simply amazing and appears to have taken on a life of its own. It's also taking the Hollywood scene by storm, with nearly everyone sporting a variation of the "Walken look" these days.

The best new release this week by far is the Israeli film Ajami, co-created by an Arab Israeli, Scandar Copti, and a Jewish Israeli, Yaron Shani. Ajami might just be the best crime film of the year, an Israeli City of God that bristles with energy and dread throughout. The whole film feels like a lit fuse winding its way through the crowded and racially-fractured Ajami District in Jaffa where Arabs, Jews and Christians live in close proximity, but in vastly polarized worlds. An extended prologue sets the stage for what's to come, but as the film follows multiple characters toward the inevitable events that open the story, we discover that our initial perceptions are incorrect, our judgements misguided.

This is a brilliantly-constructed action-thriller that belays any thoughts that all Middle-East filmmaking is exclusively devoted to 20 minute still long-shots of three palm trees in a scrubby desert (take that Abbas Kiarostami!). What makes Ajami different from most Arab/Israeli films I've seen (which to be fair isn't all that many) is just how eminently watchable it is. Sure it's subtitled and set in a place completely foreign to us, but this is basically a crime story that has its source in a long and unending blood feud between people who simply refuse to accept one another. It's a story that contains universal themes that makes it easy to get into but hard to shake. Winner.

A rainy Sunday caught me up on the new movies.


1 comment:

Worsenfunk said...

I want a walken-hair wig.