Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The King (James Marsh, 2006)

For my money, The King is tied with The Science of Sleep for the best movie I've seen in 2006. Surprise, surprise - both films are anchored by exceptional performances by Gael Garcia Bernal, with whom, every time I see him in a film, I am more and more convinced that he is the great acting talent of our generation. I cannot wait to see his directorial debut Deficit next year, but for now, he's one of the finest working actors, and his performance in The King might be his most accomplished.

Bernal plays Elvis, a young man just released from three years in the navy who goes to Corpus Christi, Texas, in order to find his birth father. His father, played by William Hurt, is a pretty big-time pastor in the city, and refuses to acknowledge Elvis's existence as his son. He also has a daughter, played by Pell James (who is older than Bernal playing a 16 year old convincingly!), with whom Elvis becomes involved with. Giving away any more of the plot would both ruin the surprises and story the movie has set up; in fact, several times I gasped, not having expected what was coming. The supporting cast rivals Bernal in their great performances; Hurt and James are both exceptional, as are Laura Harring, as the family's mother, who goes from vibrant to devastated, and Paul Dano, playing the exact opposite of his character in Little Miss Sunshine, a bright-eyed Christian musician about to go to college in the fall. The whole cast is stellar, both individually and as an ensemble; their interactions are so real that you might think you were watching a documentary. James is especially wonderful - if you see the film, watch for the changes in her character from the first, second, and then third times she has sex with Elvis. That kind of evolution is so organic that it takes a talented actress to bring it out.

The King could have devolved into melodrama, and I was sure that it would, but instead, it takes some daring turns and chooses to move into uncomfortable territory. Shakespearean in its depth of themes, including revenge, religion, family, and love/lust for starters, this is a beautiful and true story about what one man will do to become part of a real family. There are many questions left at the end, but not the frustrating kind; instead, I was thinking about it for days to come (why this post took so long, I wanted to figure some things out first). Not only are the acting and script great, the cinematography is beautiful as well (check out the post of stills I made from the film, but be warned of spoilers). Gael Garcia Bernal should definitely be awarded with an Academy Award nomination for his fiery, passionate, and real portrayal of Elvis (although I would accept one for Science of Sleep in its place).


RIYL: Teorema, Visitor Q (The King takes up the theme of both these films - a stranger visits a family and changes everything in their lives)

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