CHILDREN OF MEN
David Bruckner, co-director, The Signal
"Children of Men is freakishly good. The first time I saw it I was in a state of shock. Never have I seen predictions of our world gone bad in such a relevant way. The second time I saw it, one afternoon, I questioned the way I have been living my life. Did I even know what it was like to commit myself to an idea? I couldn't stop thinking about it."
Matt Booth, Videodrome video store owner
"Hou Hsiao-Hsien's lyrical, time-traveling love story follows two lovers through separate vignettes set in 1911, 1966 and 2005. In this visually articulate study of universal romantic themes, Hou particularly focuses on changing modes of communication (a courier, a letter, a cellphone) and their effect on generational approaches to romance. Three Times is a meditation on both film and life, and Hou is a master of mood and efficiency, able to convey grand emotions with little more than delicate camera movements and awkward glances."
Three Times screens at 8 p.m. Fri., Feb. 23, at the High Museum.
Gabe Wardell, executive director, IMAGE Film & Video
"My overlooked movie of 2006 is Spike Lee's rock-solid genre picture featuring searing performances from Denzel Washington and Clive Owen (star of another inexplicably overlooked film: Children of Men). As welcome a return to form for Lee as The Departed was for Scorsese -- each film bears the unmistakable trademark of its creator. Just as The Departed lingers in the shadow of his own gangster pictures, Lee's post-9/11 bank robbery joint pays homage to classics like Dog Day Afternoon, invigorating the formula with fresh twists, turns and surprises. That Lee followed Inside Man with his made-for-HBO Katrina documentary -- the epic masterpiece When the Levees Broke -- makes the Academy's Inside Man snub all the more perplexing."
Matthew Bernstein, film studies professor, Emory University
"This account of a 16-year-old girl who has an uncertain identity but an incredible power over men via her physical beauty is powerfully done. Abbie Cornish's performance as Heidi is astonishingly brave and convincing. Writer/director Cate Shortland uses close-ups, jarring cuts and tinted shots to convey Heidi's interactions with a barren landscape."
James Ponsoldt, director, Off the Black
"Least surprising robbery of the year? Laura Dern not getting proper recognition for her work in Inland Empire. A three-time David Lynch muse, Dern gives a mesmerizing performance that recalls Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc, Bette Davis in All About Eve and Peter Sellers in Being There. Sounds schizophrenic, right? Exactly. Laura Dern is at turns terrifying, hilarious and moving. It's called acting, folks. The sad joke is that Lynch was forced to self-distribute his solipsistic, looking-glass epic and promoted the film by sitting on Hollywood Boulevard in a lawn chair, a poster of Laura Dern reading 'For Your Consideration' behind him, and at his side: a live cow. Sound silly? No more ridiculous than your average, multimillion-dollar, Academy-fellating Oscar campaign. Bless the beasts and weirdos; in 2006, Laura Dern was their true queen."
Linda Dubler, curator of media arts, High Museum
"From Argentina, Rolling Family is an earthy comedy with an improvisational, documentary feel about an extended family's cross-country trip that plays like a truer Little Miss Sunshine."