Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
What with the lyrical voice-over and stunning Middle-America compositions, it’s hard not to look at David Lowery’s debut feature here and think of Terrence Malick. A tale of rebellious, murderous young lovers will surely draw endless comparisons to Malick’s “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven,” but it’s difficult to tell if that’s actually the portentous tone that Lowery is going for. The end of the trailer suddenly veers towards more “No Country for Old Men”-ish suspense and shadows, but either way this first look is certainly enough to catch my attention. “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” got terrific reviews out of both Sundance (where it won the Cinematography Award) and Cannes’ Critic’s Week sidebar, and any time you’ve got Ben Foster with a mustache in the mix, I’m sold. Good to see Casey Affleck back on the scene again as well, after the whole “I’m Still Here” fiasco seemed to put him on the Hollywood back-burner.
The Sundance reception for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s writer/director debut was much more mixed, but considering JGL recently navigated the leap from indie darling to blockbuster-leading-man, it’s interesting at least to see he’s not done reinventing himself. Although the idea of a modern Don Juan adaptation doesn’t have me chomping at the bit, there’s enough likable people involved (mainly JGL and Julianne Moore) to make me think it’s worth the risk. And while I’m hardly a Scarlett Johannson fan, am I the only one who thinks the Jersey accent kind of works for her? Is that just me?
Finally, time for our annual check-in with Woody Allen. You might think that after decades of cranking out films, year after year, we would finally just tell Mr. Allen enough already, but dammit if he isn’t sucking me in again here. Recently Woody has re-found critical acclaim by veering to his lighter, more funny and romantic side (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” “Midnight in Paris”), but “Blue Jasmine” looks a lot more like the more cynical, cruelly funny family dramas that he made once upon a time, like “Hannah and Her Sisters” or “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It’s been a while since he worked in that particular vein, and I’m interested to see his take on the post-market crash rich. Plus, while he always has an unlimited number of talented actors waiting on his call, Allen has assembled a particularly curious ensemble this time around: I’m particularly enthused by the additions of Bobby Cannavale (always delightful in Thomas McCarthy films like “The Station Agent” and “Win Win”), Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins and Louis C.K., whose grumpy mode of humor should fit well with Allen’s nebbish style. Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin was pretty much the one worthy part of “To Rome with Love” last year, so it’s nice to see him return to the Allen pack, and remarkable as it may seem, Cate Blanchett hasn’t had a starring role since “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 2008 (or even “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” in 2007, depending how you want to count it). With this and Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” still filming, looks like Blanchett will be back on the radar this year.