Promised Land
Gus Van Sant
screenplay John Krasinski & Matt Damon

Matt Damon on the run  —  actually at a brisk walk this time.  In the opening sequence the camera tracks his fast paces through a busy restaurant which occupies the foreground.  The actor who ran fast through all three Bournes  creating a character while running, even a likeable one,* tends here toward movement within rather than without.  He observes, reflects and changes but this is a suspenseful tale with frequent surprises.  It is a story with meaning and guts.

SPOILER ALERT:  There are some appropriately dangling loose ends at the close.  It is regrettable that the one loose end the script firmly takes time to tie is the quite unimportant romantic one.

*He even makes you care about him while he’s running.  I am grateful for this insight to commentator BEC

Stephen Saint Leger & James Mather
screenplay Saint & Mather & Luc Besson

The suspense is breathtaking if not literally heart-stopping.  Credibility is sustained (it’s 2079 and the White House is involved in outer space) by the witty writing that created Snow’s personality and the great Guy Pearce’s flawless delivery of the character’s lines.  There is much food for thought in the rapid exchange of ol’ WB-like dialogue, but suspense trumps and violence rules.  The resolution is suddenly too facile, and [SPOILER ALERT] Hollywood’s Hollywood ending is somewhat embarrassing though the cool of Pearce and his co-star Maggie Grace (and the editors) help make it palatable.  This is an exciting yarn superbly executed.

editing Camille Delamarre & Eamonn Power
production design Romek Delimata
visual effects supervisor Richard Bain
visual effects producer Sona Pak

My Blueberry Nights
Wong Kar Wai

This seems to me to be about American surfaces:  tiles, the tops of bars, neon lights, the sheen of shiny cars, and the lights of passing trains.

The plot is an old-fashioned love story.  Jude Law’s performance suggests that this all “Once upon a time…”

Wong Kar Wai, in an interview on the disc, describes it as a film about letting go.

Natalie Portman is outstanding.

MOVIES ARE EVERYWHERE:  My collaborator found at our library an up-to-date, informal, almost irreverent and witty book on England’s rulers with an emphasis on the present House of Windsor.  It includes a section called “Monarchs in the movies” covering The Private Life of Henry Vlll from 1933 and The Tower of London (1939) all the way to The King’s Speech.  Whoever wrote the capsule critiques is knowledgeable and knows, for example, that while Kenneth Branagh is a fine actor and director, his Henry V is much less interesting as film than Laurence Olivier’s 1944 version.  (The Rough Guide to Royals, London, Rough Guides, 2012, by Alice Hunt, James McConnachic, Samantha Cook, Rob Humphreys and Rupert Matthews.)

Until then,
See you at the movies,

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