David Lean is a filmmaker with many prehistoric virtues. Clearly a sort of a materialist, Lean vests in rich, elaborative visual details and displays a strong belief in assuring their solidity, be it the perfect sunset or the right look of a corn field in 1910s Russia.
Back in the day, Firesign Theatre had a film promo parody that went: "the lives of honest working people as told by rich Hollywood stars." And thats the problem with the most well-meaning and even well-executed examples of the phenomenon (Valley of Elah, A Civil Action, North Country); all that damn sincerity.
There is a new wave in agitprop, but its familiar to the old timers. Referencing, conjuring, sentimentalizing, and recreating the passion of the New Left and eco-warriors, performance artists and marquis actors are engaged in a frenzied effort to get viewers to aim higher.
The characters in the Coen Brothers latest film are, each and every one, mired in delusion, and therein lies the movies acidic charm. At a historic juncture when we're all finding ourselves trapped inside a nightmare wrought by someone elses wishful thinking (of military triumph, bottomless bailouts, the ultimate Mrs. America makeover), the deadly silliness of the Coens shipload of fools provides black comedy indeed.
In Elegy, Isabel Coixet creates a sensually lush adaptation of Philip Roths inert and insipid story The Dying Animal. The film reveals a tone, rather stilted at first, that slowly seeps into the psyche.
Director Lou Adlers long lost cult classic, nearly thirty years old, provides the missing link in Rock 'N' Roll films. With a limited festival screenings late night TV spots, and this criminally delayed DVD, few have had the opportunity to experience this treasure.