CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – I wanted to like Julian Schnabel’s “Miral” for so many reasons. I think Schnabel (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “Before Night Falls”) is not only one of our most interesting filmmakers but he’s redefining what one should expect from a biopic. I love the supporting cast — Hiam Abbass, Alexander Siddig, Willem Dafoe, more. I want Freida Pinto to be more than that pretty girl from “Slumdog Millionaire.” Despite my high hopes, this is Schnabel’s least effective film, a startling misstep that both bites off more than it can chew and still finds a way to be his least passionate work.
CHICAGO – No matter how many films he makes, Julian Schnabel may always consider himself a painter first. Watching one of his cinematic efforts is akin to being pulled headfirst into the vivid and visceral canvas of a true neo-expressionist. His work aims to engulf the viewer. It shatters the barriers between a contrived character’s existence and that of the flesh-and-blood audience.
CHICAGO – Julian Schnabel’s controversial new drama, “Miral,” tells a tale both sprawling and intimate. On one level, the film is about the titular Palestinian girl (Freida Pinto), and her coming of age during the Arab-Israeli war. On another level, the film is about a movement for peace, and the several generations of women whose acts of independence eventually set it into motion.
CHICAGO – “Cairo Time” may be a serene and intricately nuanced romance between an American woman (Patricia Clarkson) and an Arab man (Alexander Siddig) in Cairo. But behind the cameras, the atmosphere felt more like an action movie, as filmmakers outwitted government censors by finding endless creative ways to capture their desired footage, in the midst of a bustling city that was largely out of their control.
CHICAGO – While “Sex and the City 2” and “Eat Pray Love” failed to impress their female target audience this summer, a small art house treasure flew under practically everyone’s radar. It brilliantly delivered precisely what moviegoers expected from those mainstream turkeys, without a trace of cultural insensitivity or superficial excess. That film was “Cairo Time,” and it deserves to be discovered on the small screen.
CHICAGO – A delicious sip of tea, a cool fragrant breeze, a stroll through a gorgeous foreign landscape. These are but a few of the sensations moviegoers will experience in “Cairo Time,” a deceptively simple, tenderly lyrical love story that is quite simply the most refreshing cinematic surprise of the season. I don’t want to overpraise this lovely little morsel. It’s meant to be savored, and has a rich aftertaste.