stuff white people like: denver premieres for 1/2/09

They're all smiles now, but if she ends up spilling that drink, he will totally beat her when they get home. Totally.

Revolutionary Road- Based on Richard Yates' 1961 novel of anomie, infidelity, and murder (!) in the land of the split-level, two-car garage, "where everyone drinks and smokes too much - even pregnant women," Sam Mendes' (American Beauty, Jarhead) latest grim offering was, to read the NY Times tell it, largely the product of star (and Mendes' wife) Kate Winslet's lobbying on behalf of Justin Haythe's script. While it's also the first time since Titanic Winslet has co-starred with Leo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road's subject matter - watching a pair of young married's hopes stagnate and die - is hardly the stuff of Celine Deion songs (though who knows - a lot of years have passed and we're all a little older now...). Mendes has made a reputation as a guy who takes on smart, literate projects about people having to deal with difficult choices; but unlike, say, Todd Field's stuff, where the consequences of his characters' privilege or their actions are thick and tangible, Mendes' films never seem to be very deeply felt, almost as though they're taking place in a vacuum.

I’ve Loved You So Long – All the praise that this film garners, seems to be going to Kristin Scott Thomas for her performance. She plays a character named Juliette who, at the beginning of the film, moves in to her younger sister’s house. The younger sister, Lea, lives with her husband Luc and from the first moments of Juliette’s arrival, all three characters exhibit signs of tension with each other. From what I have read, I’ve Loved you So Long is a film that doles out key pieces of information about Juliette’s past over the course of its running time, giving the viewer a widening scope of the dynamics at play between the characters. The film is directed by the novelist and first time director, Philippe Claudel and co-stars Elsa Zylberstein and Serge Hazanavicius.

Happy-Go-Lucky- Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Naked, Career Girls), a director who has in the past been mistaken for a "miserable-ist", decides to turn that frown upside down with his latest offering, Happy-Go-Lucky. In it Sally Hawkins plays a character named Poppy (of course!) who travels through the world with an unyielding sense of optimism. Instead of following the model of Voltaire’s Candide in which the main character’s nature is ridiculed, Mike Leigh decides to run the character through her paces in situations that earnestly beg the question, “What is it that makes a person sincerely happy?” Because of the attention that Sally Hawkins' performance is receiving in the year end polls and for the fact that she will be a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination in the category of "Best Actress in a Leading Role", Starz FilmCenter is bringing back Happy-Go-Lucky for one week (January 2 – 8) for those of us who missed it in its theatrical run a couple of months ago.

Shoot the Piano Player- Francois Truffaut’s second film Shoot the Piano Player is considered the least of his first three masterpieces, but that is only because the other two films are the venerable classics The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim. Loosely based on the David Goodis book, Down There, Shoot the Piano Player is Truffaut’s tip-of-the-hat to the American crime films of the 40s and 50s. It centers on a down-on-his-luck classical pianist named Charlie Koller (Charles Aznavour) who pays his bills by playing piano at a corner dive bar. One night Charlie’s brother Chico, being chased by gangsters, comes into the bar and asks for help. Charlie helps Chico escape from the gangsters, but by doing so puts himself and two characters close to him in harms way. Shoot the Piano Player runs throughout the week (January 2-8) at the Starz FilmCenter and is showing in a brand new 35mm print provided by the good people at Janus Films.

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