MOVIE JOURNAL: J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things
I’ll admit to a certain surprise that the big winner at the New York Film Critics Circle turned out to be neither “12 Years a Slave” nor “Inside Llewyn Davis”, but David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” which won best feature and best screenplay as well as best supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence.
Musicians brandishing bazookas on stage, cops masked like El Santo, a posh Sinaloa necropolis in which the tombs have bullet proof glass, mutilated corpses in the streets of Ciudad Juárez: Mexican photographer Shaul Schwarz’s “Narco Cultura” is the most scarific doc I’ve seen since “The Act of Killing.”
Underachieving son (played against type by the comedian Will Forte) drives his near demented, alcohol sozzled old father (Bruce Dern) across the Midwest in search of a nonexistent pot of gold: Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” is a slow-burning heart-warmer that neatly dodges the cornball bullet of a climactic manly hug. Indeed, it’s Payne’s best movie since his old Jack Nicholson road movie “About Schmidt”—and, in its absence of grandstanding, perhaps better than that.
With one-week Oscar qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles, anime master Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” is getting an extremely careful roll-out from distributor Walt Disney—as well it might. The animated feature that the 72-year-old Miyazaki has said will be his last, is a fanciful bio-pic of the aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, introduced as a boy who dreams of designing airplanes that somehow become Japan’s most feared World War II weapon, the Mitsubishi Zero fighter.
Frederick Wiseman, now well into his 80s, returned to school a few years ago, “At Berkeley.” For the better part of the Fall 2009 semester (and perhaps into 2010), America’s preeminent documentary filmmaker audited America’s preeminent public university, distilling 250 hours of footage into a four-hour mosaic.
An exotic and elegant meta movie, “Golden Slumbers” shores the fragments of a ruined cinema—namely the 400 or so films made in Cambodia between 1960, when an indigenous movie industry was inspired by king and sometime filmmaker Norodom Sihanouk, and 1975, when that industry was destroyed in the Khmer Rouge bloodbath that murdered over a million people.