Kinshasa Kids by Marc-Henri Wajnberg
An interesting, if disjointed tale of Kinshasa's street kids and a specific group of them trying to become a musical act. It's a bit on the "poverty porn" side, but the kids are great and the music is pretty amazing.
Like Someone in Love by Abbas Kiarostami
There are some fine moments in Kiarostami's latest, but it doesn't live up to his classics, nor his most recent - Certified Copy. Boy, does he love shooting in cars. Almost as much time spent in cars here as in Ten. It's a jarring ending, but it seemed appropriate. Like most of his films, I prefer to withhold final judgment until it settles in with me or until I decide to see it again.
Amour by Michael Haneke
Haneke's second Palme d'Or winner, Amour, features two amazing performances by classic French actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. They play a happy, cultured couple in their eighties whose relationship is tested when she suffers a series of strokes. It's almost an evisceration of how movies usually describe love. Most films focus on the early years, when it's all puppy-eyes, butterfly-filled tummies, and passion. Here, Haneke shows us that love is lifting your spouse into her wheelchair, having serious end-of-life discussions and changing adult diapers. It's heart-breaking and brutally honest (and not the most uplifting film to see on one's birthday, by the way), but it's worth it for the work of Trintignant and Riva. If Sony Classics plays their cards right, the film could pull in acting nominations, a screenplay nomination and a director nomination for Haneke. It's been quite some time since a foreign film has broken into that many categories. Can they do it?
Pieta by Kim Ki-duk
I've been a fan of Kim since I saw Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring back in 2003, but Pieta didn't further enamor me to him. It's a brutally cold film in the beginning - so dark it started to make Oldboy look like Annie. It takes some plot twists that held my interest, but in the end, I think it will be considered a minor work in his canon - still worth seeing (if only for how much darkness you can withstand before it begins to lighten up).
Here's looking forward to some lighter fare after an incredibly heavy first day (and birthday).