In the crowded heart of the Mexican capital, a fictional one-eyed private investigator shares a dingy flat with a flock of ducks and a rotating cast of lovers.
The central character in Paco Ignacio Taibo II's crime novels is Hector Belascoaran Shayne, a former engineer who got a "certificate in detection" through a correspondence course. Belascoaran is a cynical, bumbling private eye who marvels at the chaotic street life unfolding around him in Mexico City.
At first glance, the latest film from French director Andre Techine boasts all the titillating trappings of a neo-noir thriller: a missing girl, a private investigator, a seedy urban-European underbelly, a rich man suspicious of his beautiful younger wife. Yet Unforgivable, adapted from Philippe Dijian's best-selling novel, only masquerades as a story about crime. Instead, the film observes its subjects in the small moments of their daily lives, meditatively exploring the casual malice with which family and lovers fracture and finally break their closest relationships.
The distance between the movie sold by a trailer and the one you end up seeing is often as wide as that between the appetizing burger in the fast-food ad and the heat-lamped puck of sadness delivered to your tray. But in the case of Steven Soderbergh's latest, that expectation mismatch works in reverse: The advertising might make this look like a flimsy excuse to put a bunch of hunky guys onscreen in equally flimsy thongs, but Magic Mike turns out to be more complicated than its slick, vapid rom-com trailers would indicate.
From two who brought us those sensitive little human dramas, Star Trek and Transformers, comes a sensitive, decent, well-crafted little drama about frailty and forgiveness.
No, really: In his first outing as a director, writer-producer Alex Kurtzman has filled in a heavily worn premise with wit, heart and — along with Roberto Orci and Jody Lambert — a lively way with ordinary speech.
Actress Sarah Polley's 2006 directorial debut, Away From Her, was a bit of a shock: an unexpectedly tonic drift into adultery and Alzheimer's that somehow found a way to move us without resorting to the maudlin. What was exciting about that film was its voice — clear, confident and emotionally complex — and many wondered if it might be a fluke.