Saw a film that so far is the BEST FILM I have seen in a long time - Melancholia by Lars von Trier. I rarely see a movie that is as beautifully structured - form and content are equally vital and visually gorgeous. The images sometimes felt like a speeded up Robert Wilson performance. Then add Wagner's music from Tristan and Isolde and it is breathtaking - bringing me to some deep place inside. Lars von Trier uses images from paintings, a surreal glowing light in this metaphorical tale of the planet Melancholia hurtling toward earth and final destruction - conflated with the deep dark empty void of nothingness that is depression. Great performances by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, sisters who are very different from one another. I do not want to reveal too much but I actually got physically nauseous watching the movie, perhaps from the hand-held camera work and the existential apprehension that I felt viewing it.
I am a big Clint Eastwood fan but disappointingly J. Edgar is not a very good film. Despite a credible performance by Leonardo Di Caprio - this movie was sentimental, slow and the worst aging make-up job I have ever seen except in a horror movie. You would think that Eastwood who is 80 would realize that when you are in your 60's you do not look like a zombie or burn victim but that is what they did to the actor who played Hoover's long time friend and partner Clyde Tolson. I have to agree with Joe Morgenstern's review in the Wall Street Journal: " Mr. Eastwood's ponderous direction, a clumsy script by Dustin Lance Black and ghastly slatherings of old-age makeup all conspire to put the story at an emotional and historical distance. It's a partially animated waxworks.
The movie was not bad just disappointingly jerky with no emotional tug except in the few scenes showing Hoover's tenderness with Tolson. I realize Eastwood's desire to portray a conflicted son of a powerful mommy who confused her son. Why are Mommies often the psychological screw-up force behind the throne of the powerful? My problem with the film was that I felt Eastwood wanted to span Hoover's 48 years of service to the FBI and regrettably he did so without grace - awkwardly. Also the use of the just barely tinted color (like a toned retouched photo) added to its contrived look. I laughed at "tragic" moments because they were depicted so sentimentally without true sentiment
Martha Marcy May Marlene - an affecting powerful movie slowly revealing how a cult with a strong leader (the terrifically freaky John Hawkes) manipulates vulnerable women - the film focusing on one Martha who the leader renames Marcy May ( with an excellent performance by Elizabeth Olsen) through insidious psychological blather about family, love and "being all that you can be 'talk. The cult ensnares the lost and fragile into its web and the film shows their daily lives with its rewards of communal life and the bitter price that the members pay. This is contrasted with the "normal" life of the heroine's sister, who Martha flees to when she tries to escape the group...but she is unable to escape their psychological pull on her. Martha has re-learned how to navigate the world and it is at odds with the conventions of that world.