Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beaches of Agnes (2008)****1/2

In this delightful memoir, the great Agnes Varda recounts the many adventures that have marked her extraordinary time on Earth. Always a better documentarian than a dramatic filmmaker, Varda utilizes a variety of clever visual tools to intimately acquaint us with her 80-year love affair with life. Name any important creative innovation in art, music or culture since WWII, and there you’ll find Agnes, smack dab in the middle of it. Amusing, heartbreaking, never short of amazing, The Beaches of Agnes is a must see for anyone interested in the mysterious forces that compel the serially creative.

Still Walking (2008)****

Fans of the classic films of Yasujiro Ozu will enjoy this contemplative drama of family life in Japan. Director Hirokazu Koreeda uses leisurely strolls over hilly terrain as a metaphor for the passage of time and generational change. Quiet, hypnotic and strangely poignant, Still Walking explores a family’s deepest secrets and resentments through reverent scenes that somehow manage to simultaneously evade and confront.

Reno 911 Season 4 (2006)*****

Since most of you think I’m a squat-to-pee film snob, you’ll be shocked to know I LOVE this raunchy, insane, just plain goofy comedy about Reno’s far-from-Finest. Pick any season – they’re all hysterical - but Season 4 ranks as my favorite. Along with the usual gang of talented nitwits (Cedric Yarbrough, Niecy Nash, Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Carlos Alazraqui, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kerri Kenney and Mary Birdsong) there’s great guest stars including Paul Rudd, Paul Rubens and the always hilarious Kim Whitley. Her turn as a prostitute more interested in running errands than collaring an abusive pimp is one of the funniest sketches in the show’s history…and that includes a lot of funny sketches. Hey, there’s more to life than that new penetrating Bulgarian art film. Live a little!