|Monty Python’s Life of Brian|
(This month’s screenings were limited to a measly seven, partly due to a rigorous reading schedule for a research project and partly because of the Football World Cup.)
Johnny Stecchino (Benigni, 1991, B)
Parodying the conventions of film noir, Benigni’s tale of mistaken identities is cliched, mildly inappropriate and slightly dated but it nevertheless doesn’t fail to make the audience laugh out loud. Nicoletta Braschi is divine as the film’s femme fatale.
Me and You (Bertolucci, 2012, B-) (review)
A surprisingly intimate film from one of the most provocative directors of the twentieth century, Me and You is an empathetic, if slight, look at teenage awkwardness. There is delightful chemistry between the film’s two young leads.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DeBlois, 2014, C)
Devoid of the sort of character-driven storytelling that made the film one of Dreamworks’s few special outings, this sequel is a relentlessly action-packed riot that offers little beyond the beautiful animation.
A Simple Event (Shahid Saless, 1973, B)
One of the most influential films in Iranian history, a work that directly impacted the cinema of Abbas Kiarostami and Amir Naderi, A Simple Event lives up to its title. There is very little in the way of plot, but the final moments of the film are moving and a testament to its lasting impact. A restoration and quality home video release is way overdue.
Venus in Fur (Polanski, 2014, B-) (review)
An amusing exercise featuring two perfectly calibrated performances, Polanski’s gleefully kinky adaptation of the Masoch-inspired play is entertaining but doesn’t leave much to think about in its wake.
The Edge of Tomorrow (Liman, 2014, B)
Certain pitfalls of the modern Hollywood action film persist in Liman’s otherwise inventive, pleasingly original take on the alien invasion. The Edge of Tomorrow is a whole lot of fun to watch from start to finish, which is a quality few blockbusters possess.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Jones, 1979, A-)
Thirty five years after its release, Life of Brian remains a refreshingly outrageous and sheepishly funny and insightful romp, excelling at creating a coherent structure from sketch-based comedy and providing sharp commentary on religious and political issues.