"A Most Wanted Man", "Abuse of Weakness", "Frank", "Get on Up", Catherine Breillat, Chadwick Boseman, Isabelle Huppert, Kool Shen, Maud Schoenberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman
I enjoy movies as readers of MillersTime no doubt know. Of late, however, there haven’t seem to be too many ones to recommend for your consideration.
Here are three, however, that on various levels I found enjoyable:
A Most Wanted Man ****
From a John le Carre book, this spy thriller is entertaining and not exactly formulaic.
What was best about it for me was the performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead role as Gunter Bachmann, a German spy who is the head of an anti-terrorist organization.
Knowing that this film was Hoffman’s final performance (he died of an overdose earlier this year) possibly affected my judgment as I was conscious of watching a favorite actor act. But he certainly is (was) a craftsman at what he does.
If you are looking for a mainstream movie that is engaging and doesn’t insult your intelligence, A Most Wanted Man fits that bill.
Get on Up ****
The best thing about this film for me was the performance of Chadwick Boseman portraying the life story of James Brown.
Boseman, who played the role of Jackie Robinson in ’42, is totally convincing as he gives us a look into the life of the “Godfather of Soul.” His performance is terrific.
In fact, he’s better than the picture itself, which is long and skips back and forth as it tells the story Brown’s life. We learn much about Brown’s early life, his climb to fame, and his ups and downs, but there was something lacking in the script. I can’t quite put my finger on what, but Get on Up, because of Boseman’s performance, is good enough.
Abuse of Weakness ****1/2
I suspect this film will be hard to find (I saw it at the Film Society of Lincoln Center); plus, it is a hard film to like.
It’s based on the life of film maker Maud Schoenberg (well played by Isabelle Huppert) and what happens in her life once she suffers from a crippling stroke. Clearly an intelligent and talented individual, Maud/Isabelle makes a number of life decisions that are hard to understand.
Film director Catherine Breillat doesn’t give us easy explanations for these decisions, and we are left to try and understand why Maud/Isabelle makes the choices she does.
In addition to two very good performances (Huppert’s and Kool Shen’s), there is something intriguing about this film, particularly about it’s central character.
Abuse of Weakness is unlikely to find a very wide audience, but if it shows up in your area (or through any of the ways you see films), I’d be curious to know what you think of it.
(PS -I also saw the film Frank in NYC. Lots of film critics seem to love this movie. Neither Ellen nor I could understand what was likeable or good about it.)