The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is showing several great movies this weekend. Here are reviews of two of them.
(Germany, 2008) It’s apparent from the opening scene that there aren’t too many nice people in the German noir Jerichow
. Thomas (Benno Fürmann) is pulled away from his mother’s funeral by a small-time gangster looking for money he’s owed. After the guy finds some stashed in Thomas’ childhood treehouse (funds that Thomas was saving to renovate his mom’s home), he leaves Thomas face down and unconscious on the lawn. A few days later, a car whizzes past Thomas, spinning out of control and nearly landing in a nearby lake. A dishonorably discharged war veteran, Thomas rescues the drunken Ali (Hilmi Sözer), who shows his gratitude by telling the cops that Thomas was driving. After he loses his license because of another drunk-driving incident, Ali offers Thomas a job making deliveries to snack shops around town, a booming business he runs with Laura, his young, pretty and blonde wife (Nina Hoss). It doesn’t take long for the young and handsome Thomas to fall for her. Thomas and Laura are animalistic, selfish and impulsive (and kinda one-note — we never learn why he was discharged from the army or how he got so deep in debt). Noir’s primary element may be absent — most of Jerichow
takes place in broad daylight — but the feeling is there. At 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14 and at 3:10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16. *** (Michael Gallucci)
(Chile/Brazil, 2008). This film-festival darling 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. At 8:55 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, and 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15. ** (Milan Paurich)