Mini Reviews – “The Secret in Their Eyes,” “Double Take,” “Robin Hood” and “Solitary Man”

The Secret in Their Eyes
The 2010 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film “The Secret in Their Eyes” is best described as a cross between a “Law & Order” episode, a memory piece, a romance, a comedy and a revenge melodrama. Set in Argentina it is a compelling story with a very fine sense of how past and present inform one another. The film also intelligently questions how healthy it is for a person’s sanity to become too involved with the past. The story is well told in a manner which is intriguing and, at points, keeps the audience off balance. “The Secret in Their Eyes” is about passion. Ultimately memory, passion and love all culminate in a resolution that is simultaneously disturbing, thought provoking and satisfying. Now playing at Angelika Film Center.

Double Take
“Double Take” is a kaleidoscopic cornucopia of TV and film mages from the 1950s and 1960s all coming together to create what in today’s “You Tube” terminology could be called an incredible “trailer mash-up.” What does it all mean? It is all part of the intriguing, simultaneously fascinating and frightening, free associative, 80-minute film, part documentary, part Rorschach Test directed by Johan Grimonprez now at Film Forum through June 15.

“Robin Hood”
Director Ridley Scott’s new take on the story of Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe, is certainly great to look at but story-wise is lacking. The film is too long, difficult to follow, jumps around all over England and France, with Crowe mumbling most of his lines, and is just not particularly compelling. Plus it takes nearly two and a half hours for Robin Hood to become, well, Robin Hood, and then the film ends. While “Robin Hood” features an authentic look and a terrific climactic battle scene ultimately it proves to be an over wrought, drawn out downer. Now playing at Regal Cinemas Union Square Stadium 14 and AMC Loews Kips Bay Theatre.

“Solitary Man”
“Solitary Man” is a slow motion train wreck, head-on-collision, in which middle aged angst collides with our bad economy. It is also a convincing look at a character who, for the most part, is unlikeable. In “Solitary Man” Douglas plays Ben Kalmen, an unrepentant, aging lothario whose life is in a downward spiral. Kalmen was a crooked business man who has since paid his debt to society. We watch as he sinks lower and lower into dire financial straits due to his self-destructive choices. Douglas plays Kalmen with just the right amount of tempered “How the mighty have fallen” pride and arrogance regardless of whether he thinks he is on top of his game or has just been put in his place by someone less than half his age. While I liked “Solitary Man” it may not be for audience members who want an escape from the bad times, but who knows? For some it may provide a catharsis of sorts. Now playing at Angelika Film Center.


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on June 12, 2010, in mini reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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