Monday, April 30, 2012

Headhunters, Bernie, Sound of my Voice, Elles, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

Sound of my Voice
The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

A good weekend at the multiplex began with the well-made Norwegian thriller "Headhunters." It's over-the-top fun with a few memorable scenes, though the story itself doesn't stand up to strict scrutiny.
Even better is Richard Linklater's unique "Bernie," with Jack Black in his best performance to date as a beloved East Texas assistant funeral director who takes up with a wealthy but widely despised widow (Shirley Maclaine, pleasingly understated and offhand). Feeling imprisoned by her ever-increasing demands on his time, he shoots her, and Matthew McConaughey is terrific as the attention-whore D.A. who has the temerity to prosecute him.  What makes this hybrid movie so hilarious are the interviews Linklater intersperses with the people of Carthage themselves; their down-home bon mots will leave you laughing out loud.
Equally compelling is the cult-infiltration story "Sound of My Voice," with "Another Earth's" Brit Marling as an enigmatic, almost ethereal figure who claims to be from 2054. Marling is clearly a talent to watch in the years ahead; we're going to be seeing a lot more of her both offscreen (she co-wrote) and on.

Less successful is the prurient, aimless French film "Elles," with Juliette Binoche as a writer for Elle magazine doing a story on college girls who put themselves through school as prostitutes. Binoche does her best, but the film has nothing of interest to say on an emotional or psychological level and isn't even titillating sexually. 

"The Pruitt-Igoe Myth" is a boring documentary about a long-ago-razed St. Louis public housing complex and the competing truths behind its mythic status as the proof of the failure of Great Society-type public works. The movie would make a decent half-hour short at a Missouri historical museum.

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