Saturday, September 10, 2011

TIFF: Feeling Blue About Melancholia and 360

Posted By on Sat, Sep 10, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Kirsten Dunst stars in Melancholia
  • Kirsten Dunst stars in Melancholia

The examination of the human condition can be compelling drama. But in a heartbeat, it can turn to a real slog. Unfortunately Melancholia is the latter. Following its controversial debut at Cannes—where critics were divided between hisses and cheers—the latest film from Denmark’s Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves, Dogville) considers nothing less than the end of the world.

Facing an apocalypse, a mentally unstable bride (Kirsten Dunst) agonizes about the most trivial of matters while the world, literally, is crashing down around her. As usual, von Trier’s imagery is spectacular, however, his affluent characters are insufferable. I heard more than a few critics say it was one of the best things they’ve seen in years. But the bitterness of the angst was just too much for me, no matter how beautiful the cinematography.

More brow-beating came from director Fernando Meirelles and his all-star cast in 360. The title isn’t subtle. Translation: it all comes around eventually.

Meirelles (City of God) turns to the overly-done conceit of weaving several tales into one. Unfortunately the end result isn’t much more than a collection of mediocre short stories. Chance, risk and temptation are usually first-rate themes but none of the half-dozen main characters are allowed the time to mine their depths. Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz lead a very impressive cast but their story's tapestry is ultimately pretty threadbare.

Anthony Hopkins stars in 360
  • Anthony Hopkins stars in 360

Tonight, I'll head to another red carpet premiere for what has to be the most intriguing title at TIFF: Salmon Fishing in Yemen. Ewan McGregor stars as a fisheries scientist. Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas co-star.

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