Nicolas Rapold, L Magazine: "The story is fraud that taps rhetoric predating the cliché documentary-fiction divide by centuries: drifting soul Hossein Sabzian convinced a respectable Tehran family that he was the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, seeking catharsis through impersonation. With the participants playing themselves in reenactments — Sabzian/family courtship, the court trial, a journo's packaging the story — Kiarostami wields documentary tropes with an elegance that might be unfamiliar to viewers weaned on ten years of hook-desperate 'controversial' docs."
"Kiarostami has zero interest in sensationalism or self-serving psychotherapy," writes Keith Uhlich in Time Out New York. "His aims are more inquisitive and probing — to represent multiple perspectives over any rigidly declared truth, something he accomplishes with utter, astonishing simplicity."
"The elevation of Abbas Kiarostami into the Western film-critical canon represents an ongoing challenge to some established ways of thinking about cinema," argues Joshua Land at Moving Image Source. A "casual survey of serious Kiarostami criticism turns up all manner of references to the likes of Antonioni, Bresson, Ozu, and most of all, Rossellini. Such comparisons, while not without value, are of limited usefulness in assessing the work of a director who, by his own account, is anything but a cinephile. A deeper understanding clearly depends on going beyond the influence of foreign films, and beyond that of cinema altogether."
More from Michael Atkinson (Voice), Godfrey Cheshire (House Next Door), Richard Brody (New Yorker) and Patrick Harrison (Artforum).
"A moody little number, The Eclipse makes good on its name by sometimes obscuring its themes and even point, which can have its charms though also severe drawbacks," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "Ciaran Hinds, an actor with a thousand and one gloomy (glum, dour, sour, grim, deathly) faces, plays Michael Farr, a widower who lives quietly with his two children and photos of his dead wife hanging on the kitchen wall. A teacher and writer who does less scribbling than instruction, Michael (and his dog) has started to hear things go bump in the night, leading him into the shadows where a figure suggests he might be haunted in more ways than one."
This is "an elegantly shot Irish ghost story directed and scripted by the popular playwright Conor McPherson," notes Dan Callahan in L Magazine. "There are some fine, tense scenes... and some enjoyable hamming from [Aidan] Quinn, but it winds up being a very inconsequential picture."
"Noisy horror, broad comedy, and pensive melodrama are all smushed together in such a way that none of the modes feels natural, resulting in a film about survival (and its burdens) that itself is a burden to endure," finds Nick Schager.
On the other hand, Nathan Rabin for the AV Club: "Though The Eclipse travels a sleepy route to a shrug of anticlimax, it's refreshing to see a film acknowledge that life and love don't end at 50, even in the outsized shadow of a soulmate's death."
More from Chris Barsanti (Filmcritic.com), David Fear (TONY), Evan Louison (Cinema Echo Chamber), Andrew O'Hehir (Salon), Nick Pinkerton (Voice), Lisa Rosman (IFC), Andrew Schenker (Slant), James van Maanen and Armond White (New York Press). For Filmmaker, Damon Smith talks with McPherson "about literary adaptation, the allure of supernatural films, and why the creative-writing life can be a lonely enterprise." Interviews with Hinds: Bilge Ebiri (Vulture), Terry Keefe (Hollywood Interview) and ST VanAirsdale (Movieline).
"Psychologically rich, unobtrusively minimalist, at once admirably straightforward and slyly comic, Catherine Breillat's Bluebeard is a lucid retelling and simultaneous explanation of Charles Perrault's nastiest, most un-Disneyfiable nursery story." J Hoberman in the Voice: "This gruesome account of a wealthy serial wife-killer (the most celebrated ogre this side of Shrek) picks up where other fairy tales end. As noted by novelist Alison Lurie, 'the real trouble begins after the wedding.'"
The NYT's Manohla Dargis: "Divided into two parallel narratives — one focuses on Bluebeard and his dangerously curious wife, while the other involves two little girls in the modern era revisiting the tale — the movie is at once direct, complex and peculiar. It isn't at all surprising that Ms Breillat, a singular French filmmaker with strong, often unorthodox views on women and men and sex and power, would have been interested in a troubling tale about the perils of disobedient wives. Ms Breillat never behaves."
More from Sam Adams (AV Club), Jeannette Catsoulis (NPR), Steve Erickson (Gay City News), Michael Koresky (Reverse Shot), Nicolas Rapold (L), Lisa Rosman (IFC), Keith Uhlich (TONY), James van Maanen and Armond White (NYP).
Update, 3/27: Bluebeard's "shadowy presence has long haunted works of art, music and literature the world over." An overview from Kristin Hohenadel in the NYT.
Update, 3/30: Michael Koresky talks with Breillat for Criterion's Current.
"They make for a very unlikely trio of collaborators," writes Mark Olsen for the Los Angeles Times: "Ivan Reitman, director and producer of blockbuster Hollywood comedies, art house director Atom Egoyan and Erin Cressida Wilson, writer of the cult hit Secretary. Yet, they have come together as producer, director and writer, respectively, on the dark, sexy thriller Chloe."
"[Julianne] Moore plays Catherine Stewart, a Toronto gynecologist who suspects her husband, David (Liam Neeson), of cheating on her," explains Paul Constant in the Stranger. "She hires a prostitute named Chloe ([Amanda] Seyfried) to seduce him and report back on what happens. It's the kind of plot that only happens in erotic thrillers, and the Stewarts are the kind of upscale yuppies who live in insanely expensive modern houses that are made mostly out of glass in order to beat the audience over the head with a metaphor."
"The grotesque finale aside, it's all too soigné to be truly risible, but, thanks to [Atom] Egoyan's trademark mix of detachment and prurience, the fun is more cheesy than queasy," finds the Voice's J Hoberman.
More from Mark Asch (L), Cindy Fuchs (Philadelphia City Paper), Craig Kennedy, Neil Morris (Independent Weekly), Michelle Orange (Movieline), Keith Phipps (AV Club), Lynn Rapoport (San Francisco Bay Guardian), Lisa Rosman (IFC), Joshua Rothkopf (TONY), Andrew Schenker (Slant), AO Scott (NYT), Duncan Shepherd (San Diego Reader) and Dana Stevens (Slate). And a Reverse Shot dialogue.
Viewing: Roger Ebert gets Egoyan talking about a variety of subjects. More interviews with Egoyan: Canfield (Twitch), Aaron Hillis (IFC), Adam Keleman (Slant), Matt Mazur (PopMatters) and Keith Phipps (AV Club). Jasper Rees interviews Moore for the Telegraph.
"Given the Walt Disney Company's many decades of ruthlessly (and successfully) managing its image, branding itself as a literally magical place serving up the best in wholesome entertainment, it seems ridiculous to expect candor from any branch of the company at this late date." The AV Club's Tasha Robinson: "And yet Disney is distributing Waking Sleeping Beauty, a surprisingly intimate behind-the-scenes documentary look at the near death and joyous revivification of its animation studio from the Black Cauldron years to Little Mermaid and the boom that followed. Waking Sleeping Beauty director Don Hahn (a producer on Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, among many other projects) was on hand throughout the entire period, and through home movies, interviews, finished and raw Disney footage, in-house video clips, and the usual documentary devices, he tells the story in such a lively, humorous fashion that it may well even have disarmed the Disney PR machine." And Robinson interviews Hahn, while Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay talks with both Hahn and producer Peter Schneider.
More from Aaron Cutler (Slant), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Ernest Hardy (Voice), Stephen Holden (NYT) and Michael Koresky (Reverse Shot).
"Even if you don't know your pliés from your battements frappés, the dance sequences in Dancing Across Borders are a delight," finds Jeannette Catsoulis in the NYT. "More problematic perhaps is a true-life narrative about a wealthy white woman (Anne Bass, a prominent Manhattan patron of the arts) who plucks a happy teenager (Sokvannara Sar, known to everyone as 'Sy') from his home in Cambodia and installs him in the School of American Ballet in New York." Michelle Orange in the Voice: "[W]e get white folks ruminating lyrically on the peasant Asian's role as a kind of grand jeté bridge between East and West, and long performance sequences that are dazzling to behold but quite troubling to contemplate." More from Aaron Cutler in Slant and Joanna Fiduccia (Artforum).
"If you hop a ride in the dudely new comedy Hot Tub Time Machine, here's what you get," announces Salon's Andrew O'Hehir: "A reckless celebration of casual drug abuse and meaningless sex that makes vulgar sport of women with big hair, gay men in general, disabled people, dismembering injuries, members of Poison and Mötley Crüe, deceased pop celebrities, ski-patrol douche bags, Internet geeks and, most of all, the bruised egos of middle-aged guys. Beyond that, Hot Tub Time Machine takes the universal human longing to reimagine and relive the past — which has fueled artists and poets from the Lascaux cave-painters through Proust and Fitzgerald — and reduces it to cheap, foul and thoroughly amoral humor. Don't get me wrong: These are the things that make Hot Tub Time Machine awesome."
"I am genuinely saddened not to have enjoyed Hot Tub Time Machine," writes Slate's Dana Stevens. "The title is so genius! My standards were so low! All this movie needed to make me laugh were four guys in a Jacuzzi, a fuchsia/turquoise color palette, a steady stream of dumb jokes, and a little bit of heart. Unfortunately, the missing ingredient is the last."
More from Lauren Bans (This Recording), Roger Ebert (Sun-Times), David Fear (TONY), Dan Kois (Voice), Drew McWeeney (Hitfix), Michelle Orange (Movieline), Mary Pols (Time), Nathan Rabin (AV Club), James Rocchi (MSN Movies) and AO Scott (NYT). Interviews with John Cusack: Dave Itzkoff (NYT) and Joshua Rothkopf (TONY).
"How to Train Your Dragon, directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders and based on a popular children's book by Cressida Cowell, is closer to the sweetness of Kung Fu Panda than the coarseness of the Shrek movies," writes AO Scott in the NYT. "Its borrowings from other movies are not egregious, and its kinship with everything from Finding Nemo to Avatar puts it in reasonably good big-budget, mass-entertainment company."
More from Roger Ebert (Sun-Times), David Fear (TONY), Peter Martin (Cinematical), Keith Phipps (AV Club) and Ella Taylor (Voice).
"A small picture vibrating with grand passions, Godspeed transforms the vast lawlessness of the Alaskan wilderness into a playground for damaged souls and Old Testament mischief," writes Jeannette Catsoulis in the NYT. More from Ed Gonzalez (Slant) and Aaron Hillis (Voice).
"In its second rollout of a queer-film triple bill, Gay.com offers another mixed bag of fare," writes Ernest Hardy in the Voice. In the NYT, you'll find Mike Hale on Manuela Y Manuel ("Almodóvar Extra Lite"), Jeannette Catsoulis on Dream Boy ("young love flowers on a dunghill of homophobia, incest and religious repression") and Neil Genzlinger on Just Say Love ("a tired gay fantasy that seems as if it came out of a freshman creative-writing class").
"If you were to write an utterly predictable tale of a druggie and then replace 'slice of pizza' for every instance of 'cocaine' in the script you would get Lbs.," writes Diego Costa in Slant. More from Mike Hale (NYT), Michelle Orange (Voice) and James van Maanen.
IN THE UK
"Lion's Den, an Argentine production directed by Pablo Trapero and starring his wife Martina Gusman is savagely naturalistic and authentic," writes Wendy Ide in the London Times. "It's a gritty, uncompromising story but the film is never bleak." More from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian) and David Jenkins (Time Out London).
Peter Greenaway's Nightwatching "dramatises the idea that this picture is a bristling, encoded denunciation of the grand gentlemen who commissioned it," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, "that it effectively accuses them of being murderers, villains, rapists and thieves, and that Rembrandt's furious patrons vengefully connived at the artist's social and financial ruin. Often, Greenaway's handling of actors is his weakest point: but he gets fiercely intelligent performances here from Martin Freeman and Eva Birthistle as the artist and his wife Saskia." More from Trevor Johnston (Time Out London). Catherine Shoard talks with Greenaway for the Guardian.
"Unlike its cockney equivalent, the Irish gangster movie – however hackneyed its storyline – can usually be relied upon to deliver a modicum of wit and flair." Tom Huddleston in Time Out London: "Perrier's Bounty is a prime example: it marries a predictable plot – Cillian Murphy owes money to some bad fellas, complications ensue – with a goodly portion of smart banter, off-kilter characterisation and knockabout violence." More from Cath Clarke (Guardian) and Anthony Quinn (Independent).
"Boil-in-a-bag dystopia," grumbles the Independent's Anthony Quinn. Shank, a "thriller, set in the Broken Britain of 2015, envisages a lawless London crippled by food shortages and overrun by teenage gangs." More from Cath Clarke (Guardian).
"It's hard to feel ill-disposed towards a family film that treats the children in the audience as intelligent citizens rather than just young consumers, and presents its child characters as complex people with contradictions, nuances and surprising traits," writes the Telegraph's David Gritten. "Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, produced, written by and starring Emma Thompson, may not be perfect, but it ticks the boxes on all those scores, as well as providing watching adults enough subtext in its story to engage them, too." More from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian) and Trevor Johnston (Time Out London). Viewing: Kate Muir talks with Thompson for the Times.
For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @theauteursdaily (RSS).