The Class Director Laurent Cantetís Oscar-nominated French classroom drama (based on the loosely autobiographical book by teacher François Bégaudeau, who plays the ever-suffering teacher in the film) is like a morality tale for adults who have long forgotten just how kill-or-be-killed high school feels. The documentary style and seemingly improvised scenes (though thatís misleading Ė Cantet claims everything was scripted, just well-rehearsed) work as a kind of ride-along in a day in the life of some troubled teens and the undercompensated and underfunded professors who love them and are baffled by them at the same time. Although a third-act betrayal weighs the film down toward its climax, getting to that point is a lively and thought-worthy entertainment.
Everlasting Moments The story of the rise of the Swedish middle class in the early 20th century is given its due in this story of a housewife married to an abusive husband who wins a camera and uses it to escape her existence and find her inner joy. Often the film seems like itís about to take off into Amélie territory, but true to Swedish form, itís far too serious for that. Everlasting Moments is not the most uplifting film, but it is well-made.
The Garden A group of Latino farmers fight to save their 14-acre produce garden from being snatched away by powerful interests. This Oscar-nominated documentary of California property politics zips along so briskly from one development to the next that, even at 80 minutes, it sometimes feels like a sketch. But what a sketch! The thrilling conclusion will have you on pins and needles.
Gomorrah Like The Godfather done in the realist style of The Wire, this Grand Prix winner at last yearís Cannes Film Festival Ė based on a book by Roberto Saviano that earned the journalist a price on his head from the Italian Mafia he exposed Ė is shot like a documentary, but youíll need to keep reminding yourself that these are actors to keep you away from the kitchen knives. Nothing since The Wire has felt more devastatingly despairing or captivating.
I Love You, Man A harmless bromance starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel is custom-made for DVD. The fluffy plot Ė a sensitive guy needs to make friends with a dude, any dude, in order to have a best man for his wedding Ė and good-hearted performances ring much funnier from the couch than a theater seat. The extended takes and deleted scenes in the bonus features are more amusing than anything in the actual film. Donít miss them.