10. Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) Directed by: Max …
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of an indifferent universe, virtuoso pianist Seymour Bernstein found order in his music. Ethan Hawke’s new documentary, Seymour: An Introduction, follows the reclusive Bernstein as he prepares for his first live performance in 35 years. Through powerful ruminations on his craft, we glimpse the inner workings of an artist whose love for music permeates every fiber of his being. Hawke gives us a terrific primer on one of classical music’s most talented and confounding figures.
Cymbeline is director Michael Almereyda’s second Shakespeare adaptation set in modern day, his last being 2000’s Hamlet, also starring Ethan Hawke. The Bard’s late work tragedy, previously set in the Royal Court of Olde England, receives a face-lift, updated to a war between the Roman police force and the Briton Motorcycle Club ran by Cymbeline (Ed Harris). The King trades in a crown for an Uzi and a leather jacket as a drug kingpin troubled by familial strife. His second wife (the serpentine Mila Jovovich) despises Cymbeline’s daughter, Imogen (Dakota Johnson, proving she has acting chops that viewers may not find in Fifty Shades of Grey), for not marrying her son, Cloten (Anton Yelchin). In secret, Imogen has pledged herself to Posthumus (Penn Badgley), much to Cymbeline’s displeasure.
Walking into Predestination clean is perhaps the best advice to offer any cinephile willing to hunt down this likely future cult classic. It would be easy to just describe Predestination as Looper tossed in a blender with Minority Report, but the Spierig Brothers are going in a very different direction here. A direction that may lose a few viewers along the way.
Most filmgoers don’t know Richard Linklater’s name but his effect has been felt through the American independent film scene since the debut of Slacker in 1991. For the star-studded cast of commenters sitting down for some insights into Linklater, it’s hard to imagine a world without him. He is the unicorn who managed to build an entire career of passion projects that most filmmakers never get to, or let toil in production hell.
Seymour Bernstein might very well be the sweetest man alive. I’ve never met him, but Seymour: An Introduction, Ethan Hawke’s new documentary that chronicles a recent three-year period of Bernstein’s life, radiates with vibrant life, and creates the feeling that Bernstein is in the room with you. It depicts the man as a soft-spoken, endearing, genuine person who’s as genuinely passionate about life as he is music. He looks with glistening eyes into the camera, his features gentle and faded and the edges of the frame opaque, and talks with us, not at us. There’s something inexplicably beautiful about the way he gazes longingly into the camera, his eyes at once sharp yet soft, comfortably penetrative. He speaks softly, and the room seems to grow quiet around him, adjusting to his volume.
Based on Robert A. Heinlein’s short story All You Zombies, Predestination sees an unnamed agent (Ethan Hawke) for the temporal agency leap through time to catch an elusive serial murderer known as The Fizzle Bomber before he destroys over ten city blocks in New York. The only problem is the bomber seems to be aware of the attempts to stop him, as he keeps changing the specific day and time of his latest catastrophe.
Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is an interesting exercise in whether or not artistic intent truly matters. The film is the story of a boy, his sister and his parents as they grow and meander through life over the course of twelve years. To watch it is to experience life unfolding before your eyes, while feeling the keen sensation that virtually nothing is happening.
When a filmmaker perfectly aligns the technical and the artistic, we’re reminded of the transformative power of cinema. Lost amid the genre clichés and computer-generated extravaganzas lies an expansive battlefield called ‘the human condition’, where moments of great power co-mingle with insignificant monotony to shape our lives.