Movie Diary 11/21/2016

Dogs (Bogdan Mirica, 2016). The winner of the FIRPRESCI prize at Cannes this year is a taut picture with a No Country for Old Men vibe, as a city boy goes to a bleak countryside and finds that his inheritance comes with substantial strings attached, and that none of the customary rules apply. This was the strongest film I saw at the Romanian Film Festival in Seattle this year, but others were also good, such as:

Why Me? (Tudor Giurgiu, 2015). A Kafkaesque procedural inspired by a real-life case, about a prosecutor who finds the noose tightening around his own neck the more he investigates corruption. A well-paced downward spiral, played out in a series of cramped rooms.

Silent Wedding (Horatiu Malaela, 2008). A rural wedding celebration in Romania is halted by news of the death of Stalin, which leads to an attempt to carry on the party without making a sound. An ingenious idea for a movie, given a stylized treatment by the filmmaker (a legend of theater in Romania), and with a devastating shift in tone built into the concept.

Bad Santa 2 (Mark Waters, 2016). No real reason for a sequel to happen – in fact, many good reasons not to ruin the pleasant arc of the first film – but here’s Billy Bob Thornton in his signature role. The kid who played Thurman Merman is back, too. (full review 11/25)

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