The Headless Woman
Directed by: Lucrecia Martel
Written by: Lucrecia Martel (screenplay)
Starring: María Onetto, Claudia Cantero, César Bordón, and Daniel Genoud
I glanced at Film Comment’s top films of 2009 expecting to see the usual: The Hurt Locker, Precious, Avatar, and Up in the Air. Other than the first one, I saw none of them in the top twenty. Occupying the number two slot on that list, which polls many of the countries most prominent film critics, was this unassuming low budget picture from Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel.
The Headless Woman follows Veronica (María Onetto), a wealthy dentist who hits something- maybe a dog, maybe a child- with her car. She stops for a moment on the dusty road, but does not get out. The guilt plagues her, destroying her image of herself and making her an alien in her own life. The premise doesn’t allow for much in the way of story, but this is an excellent character study.
Image courtesy of Available Images
Let the Right One In
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Written by: John Ajvide Lindvist (novel & screenplay)
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragner, and Henrik Dahl.
In the age of Twilight, the once mythical mythology of the vampire has been demystified and defanged in order to appeal to tweens and easily-offended soccer moms. Thankfully Tomas Alfredson sticks it to Bella and Edward in this bloody tale of a tween boy and the vampire he befriends.
Let the Right One In is a meticulously crafted work of art. Each camera angle is deliberate in its haunting beauty, and each sentence delves deeper into the characters or the story. Nothing is wasted, a sign of a great independent filmmaker at work.
The story is kept simple, though it is filled with allegory relating to Swedish socialism. Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a young boy who gets picked on at school because he is weak and timid. He has no friends until a girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves in next door and starts showing up after dark to help him solve his Rubik’s Cube. The charm of these early scenes resonate because of their simplicity and also because of the darkness that follows.
Image courtesy of Time Out New York
Y tu mamá también
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Written by: Alfonso Cuarón & Carlos Cuarón
Starring: Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal and Maribel Verdú
Alfonso Cuarón’s sexed-up road movie had every critic buzzing back in 2001 when it was originally released. Not in outrage over it’s sleazy, over-sexed characters, but its expert handling of mature themes in a vibrant, entertaining way. It’s hard to see how the producers of the Harry Potter franchise looked at this film and said “There’s our guy.”
The film begins with teenage sex. Tenoch (Diego Luna) is saying farewell to his girlfriend as she prepares to depart for Italy with the girlfriend of the other main character, Julio (Gael García Bernal). It’s an erotic start to a movie that has the highest sex scene to run-time ratio (more than five in 105 minutes) I’ve ever seen.
Once the girlfriends are out of the picture, the two horny best friends let loose. From partying and getting high at a friend’s bungalow to getting smashed at a relative’s wedding, the two boys admire the notion that time you enjoy wasting is not wasted.