Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Oliver Stone’s sequel to Wall Street (1987) conjures the same darkly exciting atmosphere, even though there’s a little too much going on in it. With Shia LaBeouf in terse command as a young banker engaged to Gordon Gekko’s daughter (Carey Mulligan), it’s an after-the-crash financial drama, a political drama, and a family drama — all wrapped around an homage to the gold-plated ex-con Gekko, played by Michael Douglas as a chastened figure who retains his trickiness. The movie is no classic, but it’s vibrantly acted and entertainingly overstuffed.
By far my favorite film of the festival, Mike Leigh’s drama has little plot, just a collection of troubled, confused, romantic, world-weary souls passing into late middle age. Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent are touching as a couple who’ve held on to that rare thing — happiness — and Lesley Manville is truly great as a fragile, sozzled secretary who has no idea that the loneliness she seeks to escape is of her own devising.
It sounded like a very odd art-house couple: the obsessively austere Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry) paired with Juliette Binoche. But Kiarostami, in a surprise triumph, has made an entrancing middle-aged version of Before Sunrise, with Binoche (spiky and fascinating) and William Shimell (a British Kevin Kline) as a couple wandering through a Tuscan village. With a kind of fearful sincerity, they begin to act out their marriage, all in an effort to melt through each other’s defenses.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
One of Woody Allen’s cookie-cutter duds. Josh Brolin, as a failed novelist, may be the least likely actor ever to play a faux-Woody neurotic intellectual, and Naomi Watts, as his British wife, acts out a blah romantic crush. Anthony Hopkins plays an aging lothario who weds a statuesque Cockney hooker (Lucy Punch); the two are so ill-matched it’s like watching the love affair of Alan Arkin and Lady Gaga.
The latest cosmic downer from Alejandro González Inárritu (Babel) stars Javier Bardem as a shady but saintly Barcelona underworld operator whose life is collapsing around him. There’s another tragedy every 10 minutes, but despite Bardem’s affecting presence, the drama is underdone.