Our very own Fred Topel returns with more coverage of the American Film Institute's 2011 Festival! Today, he's got advance reviews of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Kid with a Bike and Coriolanus, the directorial debut of Voldemort himself, Ralph Fiennes.
CORIOLANUS – 7 out of 10 – Ralph Fiennes directed and stars in quite a good Shakespearean adaptation. My high school actually went to see a theatrical production of the play for English class, but I found this version much easier to follow despite the original text. The first half of the film has a lot of action, so it’s easy to know Martius (Fiennes) is a military tyrant and Aufidius (Gerard Butler) is the rebel leader who doesn’t like him. Also the acting is so evocative that even though I don’t understand all the words, Fiennes particularly is such an awesome presence he’s captivating. I mean, one character asks, “Know you me yet?” Come on, just say, “Do you know me?” But you get the essence of a monologue by watching the actor. If that language brings out the emotions, it works. When Martius goes into politics the plot loses me a little, but I like the presentation. I mean, I get what it means to be ambushed on a talk show and then team up with your mortal enemy when you’re cast out. There are a few modern adaptations like microphone feedback. Not since Romeo + Juliet: The Gangsta’ Version has Shakespeare so seamlessly incorporated the modern world. There is a lot of digital noise in the picture and the handheld gets ridiculous, but that’s what lets Fiennes shoot it fast and cheap. They never make the butt joke, so that’s disappointing. Martius says “annals” once so maybe that’s close enough.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI – 8 out of 10 – This documentary chronicles Jiro Ono and his elegant sushi presentations and his restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. With beautiful shots of the art of sushi slicing, brushing sauce on the fish and preparation techniques, director/D.P. David Delb really captures the experience of both eating at his restaurant, and running it. Even the fish markets look beautiful. There’s a family drama with Jiro’s son and his brother along the way. Jiro is like Gordon Ramsay with the intimidation factor of a measured samurai. There’s a bit of a comment on the mainstreaming of sushi and the environmental impact on mass fishing. Jiro also gives credit to the staff that allows him the spotlight. That’s the reward of excellence, you get an infrastructure to run itself.
THE KID WITH A BIKE – 6 out of 10 – This Cannes winner is a well done film, but very typically arty festival French. It’s pretty frustrating watching this kid act out. Sometimes just do what you’re told, okay? He runs away in a crowd, runs water and splashes it around so not only is he wasting but he’s making noise too, and finds other obnoxious noises to make. I mean, poor kid, his dad doesn’t want him and that sucks, but then this compassionate woman takes him in and basically endangers herself. It’s a well done slice of real drama but I honestly don’t get anything out of experiencing this. It’s no I Melt With You, so I’ll give it that.