Bandslam Reviewed at clevescene.com.
Empty Nest(Argentina/Spain/France/Italy, 2008) Argentine writer-director Daniel Burman (Lost Embrace) has said his film Empty Nest is about "accepting one's own decline." That statement alone should clue you in to the fact that this is heady stuff. Character-driven and philosophical to a fault, Burman's film is, as its title implies, about a couple who must confront their problems after their children leave home. Leonardo (Oscar Martinez) and Martha (Cecelia Roth) are sophisticated types. He's a writer, and she's a housewife who fancies herself an intellectual. While they're both smart, trouble starts when the last of their three kids leaves home to live on her own. Then the fighting begins. While Burman's tone isn't nearly as self-deprecating as Woody Allen's, Empty Nest isn't all seriousness either. Martinez plays Leonardo as both curmudgeon and buffoon, living in a world that's part fantasy. And Roth is terrific as the whimsical Martha. Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, and 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14. ***(Jeff Niesel)
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard Reviewed at clevescene.com.
His Girl Friday (US, 1940) Cary Grant is a newspaper editor who does whatever he can to keep his best reporter (Rosalind Russell) from leaving the paper. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, and 1:15 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16.
In the Loop As The Player was to the movie business, In the Loop is to politics. The mockumentary is about everything that goes wrong in wake of verbal snafu delivered by one Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), a British government minister who declares "war is unforeseeable." Since Simon has suggested the British government supports an impending U.S. intervention in the Middle East, he's flown off to Washington D.C. to participate in a conference. He gets more than he bargained for when he comes up against Linton Barwick (David Rasche), a heavy-hitter who's formed his own secret war committee. There are a number of subplots concerning young aides and assistants who are every bit as misguided as their superiors. But no one is more ruthless than the prime minister's communications chief (Peter Capaldi) who curses out anyone — Brit or American — who stands in his way. Funny from start to finish, In the Loop is a hilarious send-up that never misses a beat. Cedar Lee Theatre. ***(Niesel)
Paper Heart In this strange film that's equal parts fact and fiction, comedian and actress Charlyne Yi sets out to find out what makes people fall in love since she's never experienced true love herself. It's often hard to tell when she's seriously exploring the topic and when she's just goofing around with friends like Seth Rogen (who has a cameo). But after a chance meeting with Michael Cera, she begins to wonder if she is indeed capable of love. The movie's focus then shifts to their relationship, and some of the best moments are their awkward dates. But aside from that and the fabulous makeshift puppet scenes that Yi created to illustrate some of the film's scenes, Paper Heart just seems too fabricated. Yi would have been better off making a straight documentary, though that would then exclude the fictional romance with Cera. Cedar Lee Theatre. **(Niesel)
Tony Manero (Chile/Brazil, 2008). This film-festival darling is about Raul (über-creepy Alfredo Castro), an oleaginous sociopath in 1978 Santiago, Chile, who models himself after the titular John Travolta character from Saturday Night Fever. To gain an edge in a local television station's weekly celebrity-impersonator contest, Raul will do anything: lie, cheat, steal, even kill. Director Pablo Larrain tries making a metaphoric link between Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's '70s reign of terror — aided and abetted by the American C.I.A., which helped topple the government of Soviet-friendly president Salvador Allende — and Raul's infatuation with a glamorous Hollywood movie star, but it's too indistinct to register. The handheld, frequently (if deliberately) out-of-focus cinematography by Sergio Armstrong is almost as nausea-inducing as the reptilian Raul himself. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 8:55 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, and 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15. **(Milan Paurich)