Ira Sachs is one of my favorite directors and his films ave always touched me, from ‘Love is Strange,’ to ‘Keep The Lights On’ to ‘Little Men.’ I wish I could say the same for ‘Frankie,’ his latest film. I had high hopes for it, for it stars Isabelle Hupert in the title role (Does she only make films with one word name titles ? From Elle to Greta and now Frankie) Unfortunately, though, ‘Frankie’ is too subtle for me, and I am the queen of subtle. Jupert plays a movie star named Françoise Crémont who assembles her family in picturesque Sintra, Portugal. ‘Frankie; as she is called, is dying from cancer, and she is trying to orchestrate her family’s lives after she passes. This situation, of course, lends to a whole range of emotions among her family members, as they deal with their own personal struggles. The ensemble cast around her is great, and I particularly liked Marisa Tomei as a woman unaware that she is being match-made by Frankie for her son. There’s not much drama in here – the situations are sparse and under-nuanced, and there were far too many characters for the audience to connect with except for Hupert’s Frankie. I appreciated Sach’s genteel style, I just wish there were more substance.
‘Sway,’ by Rooth Tang spins three interwoven tales of Asians all over the world – stories from Bangkok, Paris/ Three different kid of Asian nationalities are at play here – a Thai couple who just meet wanting to move to Los Angeles, a Chinese couple in Paris who are at a crossroad in their relationship, and a Los Angeles Japanese couple dealing with a young daughter. The stories are a little underwhelming, but the actors are believable making these not a waste of time. You can say these are ‘regular’ Asian stories before they were crazy and rich.
‘Porto’ by Gabe Klinger is set in Porto, in Portugal and that place as been in my zeitgeist lately because a friend just moved there. It is shot beautifully here, and that alone is worth the price of admission. Anton Yelchin and Lucie Lucas play a couple who just meet and have an instant connection. this is one of those films that you either like or not – count me among the former. I have always liked stories about ‘two ships that pass in the night,’ and how an instant connection could blossom into something else – it’s that potential that appeals to the hopeless romantic in me. Yelchin is fine here, in one of his last roles before perishing, and it makes the film more poignant. This is one of those films that will make you think long afters teh credits have rolled
The title ‘All These Small Moments,’ perfectly describes this film about adolescent angst. Brendan Myer plays a teenager who is enamored by a girl he sees on the bus (Jemima Kirke) while he deals with familial problems in his household. Somehow, though, neither of the stories are fully formed enough for something to really resonate. While there are sweet and tender moments. but these small moments are too small to matter. On another note, I still have a difficult time grasping that Molly Ringwald is doing all these mother-of-adults- roles. I mean, she is amy age! Cue violins.
‘Al Berto’ is the biopic of the famous Portuguese poet, and Director Vicente Alves do Ó has pieced together a film culled from the notes and diaries of João Maria, who was the poet’s lover at the period of time int he poet’s life when the film is set. This would be the summer of 1975, when he has come back from Brussels training as a painter. He has reclaimed his family’s mansion, after it being sequestered during the revolution. This is a heady time in the country, where there is an ideological division between the old and ‘the future which has not come yet,’ as one character in the film describes. Ricardo Texeira smolders as the poet – he has a magnetic screen presence that is matched by José Pimentão and together they have scorching sexual chemistry. Since the film is more a character study, though, nothing much more happens, as it is that things happen to them. I found the film visually enriching, but perhaps a little too long. I liked how it gave me a brief insight on Portuguese history, and their gay history as well.