Capsule Movie Reviews (June 20): 'A Summer's Tale' and four more
A Summer’s Tale
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 54 Mins.
Originally released in 1996 in France (but never before in the U.S.), Eric Rohmer’s sun-kissed love quadrangle remains as fresh and romantically profound as it was 18 years ago. Melvil Poupaud plays Gaspard, a mopey young man who heads to a seaside resort in Brittany looking for a girl…and ends up finding three. Quelle chance! It’s obvious from the start that Amanda Langlet’s pixieish Margot is the One, especially after a series of long platonic walks and soul-searching talks. But Rohmer would rather torture the poor cad for not recognizing his destiny when it’s staring him in the face. A- –Chris Nashawaty
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 53 Mins.
If you’re looking for an antidote to predictable summer blockbusters, check out Borgman. The stranger-than-strange Dutch import stars Jan Bijvoet (resembling Peter Stormare with a wild nimbus of grubby hair) as a hermit who lives underground in the woods. The opening of the film hints that he may be the devil, but his motives are more cryptic than mere evil. After insinuating his way into the lives of a wealthy family, he…oh, never mind. You wouldn’t believe me. Plus, it’s the hypnotic little thriller’s disturbing twists that make it such a singular –and singularly weird –experience. A- –Chris Nashawaty
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 22 Mins.
”Code black” refers to the most inundated state in L.A. County Hospital’s waiting room, where the deathly ill might sit for 20 hours before being seen. This documentary takes a hard look at the theater of medicine –scalpels and chest tubes are flung in a trauma room that resembles the stock-market floor after a crash –as it deteriorates due to red tape and slashed funding. Despite occasional platitudes from director and doctor Ryan McGarry, the film makes an angry, urgent plea for reform to a health-care system that’s still critically infirm. B –Joe McGovern
A Coffee in Berlin
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 28 Mins.
Talented German actor Tom Schilling plays a despondent slacker sulking through Berlin over the course of a fateful day. His muted, beguiling performance is a deft portrait of a mumblecore scenario – call it indecision chic –but director Jan Ole Gerster lacks the confidence to set his main character genuinely adrift, instead caging him in scenes of cloying seriocomedy. The use of black and white and a jazz soundtrack only confirms Gerster’s unhealthy film-school crush on Woody Allen. C+ –Joe McGovern
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 55 Mins.
Like a doctor shaking his head at a lifetime smoker, director Marco Bellocchio (Vincere) performs another wry, rueful diagnostic on Italian society. The real-life case of Eluana Englaro – a comatose woman who spurred furious debate in Italy over the right to die – serves as the spool around which he loops four thematically relevant narrative threads, including one starring Isabelle Huppert as a grieving mother. It’s well acted and gorgeously and tenebrously shot, but those threads could have been wound a little tighter. B+ –Keith Staskiewicz