The Films of Atom Egoyan
Next of Kin
The Sweet Hereafter
Krapp's Last Tape
Ararat (August 28/02)
Ararat, the latest film from Canadian director Atom Egoyan, is clearly his most personal to date but it's also his most flawed. Egoyan reportedly wanted to film a historical epic detailing the 1915 genocide of Armenian citizens by Turkish rulers, but couldn't raise enough money for such an extravagant production. He's instead created a picture that deals with the same themes, but on a much smaller scale. And though he's written the script, the material feels as though it would have been better served had it not been saddled with Egoyan's directorial idiosyncrasies. The narrative follows Charles Aznavour's Edward, a prominent film director, as he prepares to shoot a movie about the Armenian genocide, while Christopher Plummer stars as a customs officer who listens to a young man (David Alpay's Raffi) talk about his recent trip to Turkey. It's clear that Egoyan is extremely close to the subject matter contained within Ararat, and there's little doubt that that intense familiarity works for and against the movie. The structure of the film is the usual patchwork of past and present viewers have come to expect from Egoyan, but it's never seemed quite as uneven as it does here. On the one hand, the historical stuff is fascinating (and is good enough to wish that Egoyan had been able to secure funding to film an entire movie like that), but the sequences featuring Raffi explaining the conflict to Plummer's character feels more like a history lesson than anything else.
And that's really the problem here. The tone of the movie is so uneven - it lurches from cynicism to didacticism - that it never becomes the classic Egoyan clearly wants it to be. Still, there aren't exactly a ton of movies on this subject and he has assembled an amazing cast, so the film is certainly worth checking out.
Where the Truth Lies
Click here for review.
Adoration, Chloe, & Devil's Knot
Click here, here, and here for reviews.
The Captive (January 10/16)
Directed and cowritten by Atom Egoyan, The Captive follows several characters as they attempt to solve the mystery of a little girl's abduction - with the child's parents (Ryan Reynolds' Matthew and Mireille Enos' Tina) quickly coming under suspicion by a pair of detectives (Rosario Dawson's Nicole and Scott Speedman's Jeffrey). Egoyan's penchant for time-shifting narratives is certainly (and immediately) in evidence within The Captive, as the movie boasts (or suffers from) an opening half hour that jumps backwards and forwards to a degree that is, to put it mildly, somewhat confusing - with the fractured atmosphere preventing the viewer from initially connecting with either the material or the characters. It's a hands-off vibe that's compounded by a screenplay that juggles a plethora of mysteries for much of the first hour, as Egoyan and cowriter David Fraser pose a variety of questions that remain unanswered until virtually the end of the picture (eg why is Tina being filmed? what's with the abducted kid's various monologues? etc, etc). The film, then, benefits substantially from a raft of better-than-average performances - Reynolds and Enos are especially good (and heartbreaking) here - and a storyline that admittedly grows more and more coherent as time progresses, with The Captive ultimately progressing into a third act that's far more tense and engrossing than one might've anticipated. The end result is an effort that falls right in line with Egoyan's passable yet disappointing run of recent films, which is a shame, certainly, given that the movie admittedly does possess a notable number of positive attributes.
Atom Egoyan's most entertaining movie in years, Remember follows Holocaust survivor Zev Gutman (Christopher Plummer) as he embarks on a journey to find and kill the former Nazi responsible for his family's death during the war. The Memento-like premise is utilized to exceedingly agreeable effect by director Egoyan and screenwriter Benjamin August, as the movie's first half benefits substantially from an emphasis on the mystery behind Zev's hand-written orders - with the character's quest, which is consistently hindered by his crumbling mental state, heightened by Plummer's typically masterful turn. The episodic midsection fares much better than one might've anticipated, to be sure, as Zev begins tracking down and confronting one aging ex-Nazi after another - with many of these segments possessing a tense, engrossing vibe that proves impossible to resist. (There's little doubt that the movie's highlight is one such visit, as Zev engages in a progressively perilous encounter with the son (Dean Norris, delivering a riveting performance) of one of his targets). It's clear, too, that Remember works as a periodically affecting drama and look at the rigors of aging, while the surprising third act ensures that the movie ends on an exceedingly positive note - which ultimately does secure the picture's place as a top-notch thriller from a director one might've been inclined to simply write off.