Two movies today plus an ‘In Conversation with Robert Duvall’. I was thrilled to hear that Duvall shares my thoughts on contemporary cinema – that independent films today are as good as they have ever been (and this is the guy who worked with Francis Ford Coppola on ‘The Godfather Parts I & II’, and ‘Apocalypse Now’).
WINTER SLEEP ★★★
I should have state upfront that I have always found Nuri Bilge Seylan’s work to be self-indulgent; his previous film ‘Once Upon a Time in Antaolia’ was 157 minutes long and tested both my patience and my bladder. ‘Winter Sleep’ is about 40+ minutes longer. The movie follows a retired actor who runs a small hotel in Anatolia with his wife and sister. His self-satisfaction, stubbornness, inability to compromise, and lack of respect for anyone’s dignity and pride fuels hostility between these characters over the course of an eventful winter. I admired the Chekhovian approach to class divisions, men and women, and moral despair. I also marveled at the film’s stunning images of the Turkish landscape. There is a 4-star movie buried in this 200-minute picture. On balance, ‘Winter Sleep’ remains a mostly impressive achievement.
THE PRINCESS OF FRANCE ★★
Matias Pineiro’s ‘Princess of France’ opens without a static long shot of a nighttime (Euro) football match from a rooftop set to a Schumann symphony. Without any obvious signals, the players switch teams and the scene terrifically sets the mood by revealing it’s theme of deception. So far, so very good. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from here. Mr. Pineiro includes a number of lengthy radio set montages in which the characters recite lines of Shakespeare with all the monotony they can muster. In one scene, a character delivers the prologue of ‘Henry V’ but the theater company is supposedly mounting a radio version of ‘Love Labours Lost’. Not only are these two Shakespearean works unrelated; they are completely independent of the narrative involving the characters and their relationships with each other. In two words: exquisitely tedious.