For Reel


Little Men (2016)
February 28, 2017, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ira Sachs
3.5 Stars
little-menJust as Love is Strange recalled the films of Yasujirō Ozu in the way that it quietly concerned itself with the passing of a generation and the burdens of familial responsibility, so too does director Ira Sachs’ followup unfold a gentle drama of small scale but enormously complex generational dynamics. Here, the friendship between an aspiring actor (Michael Barbieri) and his shy new neighbor (Theo Taplitz) is threatened by their respective parents who are undergoing a landlord-tenant dispute. The children, faced with the burdens of adulthood and identifying for the first time the harsh divide between intimacy and economics, later start a silent pact, recalling the hunger strike of the two boys in Ozu’s silent I Was Born, But…. For the most part, this film’s characters aren’t as memorable and dynamic as they were in Sachs’ previous feature, however Greg Kinnear’s Brian is an intriguing mess of contradictions—on the one hand, he is undoubtedly hurt by a recent family tragedy and simply doing the best he can, and on the other, he is completely oblivious to the destruction he is responsible for. Kinnear’s natural earnesty is tested in a late scene wherein he goads the two boys for compliments regarding his recent performance in Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” eventually complaining that they don’t think of anybody but themselves. The character’s hypocrisy is evident to everyone involved, but Sachs allows it to go unspoken without an easy resolution.



Love Is Strange (2014)
January 15, 2015, 5:36 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ira Sachs
4.5 Stars
Love Is StrangeDirector Ira Sach’s fifth feature reimagines a Depression-age classic for our current economic crisis. Make Way for Tomorrow, the best tearjerker of the 1930s (or any other decade, for that matter), followed an elderly couple who lose their home to foreclosure and must turn to their children for housing, only none of them are willing to take in both parents. Love Is Strange echoes this set up, replacing a she for a he, in a story about aging on both a personal and generational scale. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina are ill-afforded the opportunity to play characters like these in Hollywood these days, and both deliver tender and beautiful performances. Lithgow, in particular, is revelatory–he’s recognizable either for his manic energy or for his everyman cheer, and here he effectively plays a wizened, courteous, and generally needy man. There’s a terrific scene in which Lithgow asks a series of questions to his nephew’s wife (Marisa Tomei) as she’s trying to write. He’s being kind, but it’s clear to the audience that although she is doing her best to be empathetic to his situation she is losing her patience with him. The scene doesn’t end with an explosion, but with a teasing one-liner. Much of the film follows suit. Like Boyhood, big moments and emotional breakdowns are often obscured in favor of the smaller, more intimate ones, which ultimately reveal the most about a person.