June 16--For the week of Sunday, June 16, through Saturday, June 22.
Reviewed by Tony Lucia.
Close-Up (1990). One of the cornerstones of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's cinema has been exploring the territory between truth and fiction, and one of his entrancing excursions to that place is "Close-Up," considered by some to be not only his best work but the greatest of all Iranian films. Kiarostami examines the case of Hossain Sabzian, a resident of Tehran who represented himself to a family of potential investors as being the director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Not only does Kiarostami attend and film the man's trial, and interview him, but in his typically meta fashion he stages incidents of the purported crime in which he gets movie fan Sabzian, his victims and director Makhmalbaf to re-enact their "roles." The effect is dizzying, giving the swindler an opportunity to achieve some measure of the fame he seeks, the victims to seek redress, Makhmalbaf to confront his doppelganger and Kiarostami to turn the cinema's lens back on itself. 2 a.m. Monday on Turner Classic Movies.
To Rome With Love (2012). If not as enchanting as "Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen's omnibus film set in the Eternal City does have its moments. The writer-director himself portrays an uncouth American who discovers a phenomenal tenor -- who can only sing in the shower. Jesse Eisenberg is a student in the thrall of a femme fatale, played against type by Ellen Page, as her best friend/his girlfriend Greta Gerwig remains oblivious and Alec Baldwin advises. In a segment perhaps inspired by Fellini's "The White Sheik," Penelope Cruz, passing for Italian, portrays a hooker mistaken by a newlywed's relatives for his wife. Stealing the show, though, is Roberto Benigni as a "temporary celebrity" selected as the subject of a reality-TV show. The role is a gift, and Benigni's state of bewilderment beautifully sustained, more so than the film itself. 9 p.m. Saturday on Starz.
Killer Joe (2012). The hype over director William Friedkin's comeback was overridden by the hype surrounding Matthew McConaughey's big year, but while neither can claim this as their best work, at least it succeeded in baiting the ratings board, which agreeably slapped it with an NC-17 rating. McConaughey portrays a violent cop hired by a family of lowlifes to off the mother, with his payment being the virginal daughter. Friedkin enthusiastically embraces the down-and-dirty quality of Tracy Letts' script, based on his play, even introducing one character with a below-the-belt, frontally nude shot, but it's most successful as a very warped cartoon about the American South as a culture of monster trucks, beer, baseball caps and cowboy hats, pit bulls, pickups, strippers, coke, graffiti, trailers and of course fried chicken. 2:40 a.m. Sunday, June 23, on Cinemax.
Contact Tony Lucia: 610-371-5046 or firstname.lastname@example.org. And visit his blog, "Tony Lucia's Movie House," at http://blogcenter.readingeagle.com/tony-lucias-movie-house/.
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