Movie reviews: a cat burglar, two dancers, and a very long argument

At the first of the year, I made a goal to watch an average of one movie per week and then review the films here on my blog. I never stopped watching the movies, but I did go through a two-month blogging drought. So, I’m happy (and a little bit relieved) to say that as of this week, my reviews have finally caught up with my movie watching! Here are a few short reviews of three very different films I saw early this month.

“A Cat in Paris”
Directed by:
Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol
Format: Big screen
Viewed: Wednesday 7/11/2012 with my friends Judi and Mark at the Opera Plaza Cinema in San Francisco
Even though I make a pretty boring date, I still insist on catching an indie film every time I go to San Francisco. When I visited the city for a couple days in early July, my longtime friends Judi and Mark took me to see the animated French drama “A Cat in Paris” at Opera Plaza. The film, which tells the story of an enterprising feline who naps in the lap of a little girl by day and then roams the city as a burglar’s assistant by night, was a New York Times critics pick. I loved the pulsing and angular animation, and I enjoyed the storyline even if it was pretty predictable. But I was disappointed that the film had been translated into English for U.S. audiences. The translation revealed flat and overly simple writing, which I thought detracted from the movie’s magic. If you have a chance to see the film in French, I’d recommend it.

Directed by:
Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romy
Format: DVD from the public library
Viewed: Thursday 7/05/2012 with my wife at home
Thanks to the Fresno Film Festival, I’ve gotten to know two terrific comedic films — “L’iceberg” and “The Fairy” — from the kooky Belgian director trio of Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romy. So I was happy to see their sophomore film, “Rumba,” available from the Fresno County Public Library. In this movie, Dom and Fiona play a couple obsessed with Latin dancing, but when a depressed man (Bruno) who they’ve never met causes them to have a car accident, their dancing days are forever changed. Some of the gags in this movie were pretty inappropriate considering some of the heavy subject matter after the crash, but I thought the filmmaking whimsy of the trio still made the movie a delight. Lots of fun.

Directed by:
Roman Polanski
Format: DVD from Redbox
Viewed: Sunday 7/01/2012 with my wife at home
Filmmaker Roman Polanski can be a creepy guy. Some of that creepiness seeps into his latest movie, the black comedy “Carnage,” which takes a very long argument and turns it into a squirming, ugly character study. The film stars Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly as one couple and Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz as the other. Most of the 80 minute movie is a real-time angry volley between these privileged parents of two kids who assaulted each other at school. I sat amazed as these “civilized” adults tore each other apart, and Polanski’s dialogue and staging made me feel uncomfortable throughout– a terrific effect from a small, well-executed idea.

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