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"Ricky," "The 400 Blows," "Panic," "Crazy Heart"

The Auteurs DailyRicky

"Ricky, the latest film by François Ozon to receive release in the United States, is so chock full of tonal and generic shifts that it makes for a handy little guide to its French director's scattershot career." And Michael Koresky, reviewing the film for indieWIRE, does a fine job of obscuring the "miracle" or "mere aberration" that you may have heard about but is best not to think about as Ozon takes us through "about four different movies" before we're halfway into this little 90-minute wonder.

It opens at IFC Center in New York today, and I'll point you to the other reviews, of course, but whether you read them now or hold off on them for future savoring is up to you: Melissa Anderson (Voice), S James Snyder (Artforum), Keith Uhlich (Time Out New York) and Bill Weber (Slant). Dennis Lim talks with Ozon for the New York Times. Update, 12/17: "The deeper Ricky plunges into allegory, the shakier its grasp of the material," finds Stephen Holden in the NYT. More from Andrew Schenker in the L Magazine and a B- from Sam Adams at the AV Club.

Back to indieWIRE: "The joy of watching A Town Called Panic lies in its uncanny evocation of adolescent invention," writes Eric Hynes. "It's an overturned toy box of a movie, complete with mismatched action figures, improvisatory effects, and stream-of-consciousness storytelling. It invites you to plop down on the shag carpet, ignore your chores, and go giddy on sugar-assisted senselessness. This film from Belgian writer-director-animators Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar isn't perfect, but even its missteps seem expressions of compulsive experimentation and pure play."

More from Joshua Rothkopf (TONY) and Andrew Schenker (Slant). For Filmmaker, Damon Smith talks with Aubier and Patar "about their collaborative method, the challenge of making expressionless plastic toys Chaplinesque, and why babies with deep voices are funny." Opens at New York's Film Forum today and runs through December 29. Update, 12/17: "[E]ven at an economical 75 minutes, the whimsy can start to seem relentless," writes Mike Hale in the NYT. "Luckily, A Town Called Panic is sufficiently funny and original that you almost don't notice." Suggests Scott Tobias at NPR: "Think of it as a matinee serial with dozens of cliffhangers." More from Benjamin Sutton in the L Magazine and a B+ from Noel Murray at the AV Club.

"Crazy Heart, written and directed by Scott Cooper, is a small movie perfectly scaled to the big performance at its center," writes AO Scott in the New York Times. "It offers some picturesque views of out-of-the-way parts of the American West, but the dominant feature of its landscape is Bad Blake, a wayward, aging country singer played by Jeff Bridges. Those last four words should be sufficient recommendation." More from David Edelstein (New York), James Hansen, Nick Pinkerton (Voice), Joshua Rothkopf (TONY), Nick Schager (Slant) and Stephanie Zacharek (Salon). Aaron Hillis talks with Maggie Gyllenhaal for IFC. Opens today in New York and Los Angeles.

Updates, 12/17: "Every detail of Jeff Bridges' performance in Crazy Heart is so delicious you want to sop it up with buttermilk biscuits: the counterintuitive line readings, the throwaway bits of business, the way he walks and smokes and drinks and flirts and sings." Slate's Dana Stevens: "In Bridges' hands, the down-and-out country music star Bad Blake becomes a kind of Fender-playing Falstaff, his pathos inseparable from his humor and his weakness inseparable from his strength. On first viewing, Crazy Heart seemed like a pretty good movie with one great performance. After a second time through, it's sneaking up on the title of my favorite film of the year."

"Every movement of Bridges' performance reveals not just the mess Bad is, but something about the man he once was," writes Mary Pols for Time. "Yet for all that meticulous craft, Bridges still gives such an organic performance, you sometimes forget it's him you're watching (peering into that face, you'd swear it's Kris Kristofferson) and that he's playing a fictional character."

Benjamin Sutton in the L Magazine: "[W]e know how this story will end before we even enter the theater; the pleasure is in the execution."

At the AV Club, Nathan Rabin gives it a B+.

Listening (8'20"). All Things Considered.

Update, 12/19: "Fox Searchlight, which salvaged Crazy Heart from distribution limbo, is working to frame the film as the Cinderella story of the statuette season, with assistance from the Oscar-gossip bloggers ('Tyro-helmer never dreamed of nod!')." Leah Churner at Reverse Shot: "But Crazy Heart is not as self-righteous and crass as Searchlight's marketing department makes it out to be. The characters play against type in a totally nonacademic way, and unlike most country-music movies it doesn't make a metaphor of Nashville."

 

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Remember that roundtable on Clive Holden's Trains of Winnipeg: 14 Poems and the potential online distribution may offer avant-garde cinema? Now it's open to your participation, too.

Playing today at the Recyclage de luxe Online Film Festival: François Truffaut's The 400 Blows. Suggestions for further clicking: John Conomos's analysis for Senses of Cinema (2000). Truffaut's daughter, Laura, introduced a screening early last year and the Evening Class has her opening remarks. And, from the summer of 2006, Ray Pride at GreenCine Daily on the role the film played in his decision to become a film critic.


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