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U.S. x 2: Proof & Bee Season (2005)

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:00 am
by arsaib4
Proof, one of the numerous delayed releases from the Weinsteins-owned Miramax, is a compact, gripping and highly-effective drama from Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love [1998]). Based on a stage play by David Auburn (who co-wrote the films script with Rebecca Miller, director of films like Personal Velocity [2002] and The Ballad of Jack and Rose [2005]), Proof stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine, an emotionally fragile woman whose mindset early on in the film is in just as much disarray as her domicile. The reason for her condition is that her father Robert (Anthony Hopkins), once a university professor and a mathematics mastermind, recently passed away after persistently suffering from a mental illness. Catherine, who had to drop out of school in order to take care of him, is unsure about her own mental health, even though she disagrees with her estranged older sister (Hope Davis, miscast as an insolent New Yorker), who now wants to take her for psychiatric help. But she gradually develops a relationship with Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal), Roberts committed former student attempting to uncover any traces of genius in his mentors old notebooks (which he eventually does). While almost claustrophobic in nature, Proof is comprised with a surprise or two to jolt the proceedings, that are usually maintained at a steady pace throughout. The script beautifully incorporates Catherines relationship with her father via flashbacks, discerning the toll it gradually took on the young woman. And Paltrows performance, arguably the best of her career, not only enables us to relate to her anguish, but it also overcomes a few awkwardly directed moments to guide the film to its logical, understated conclusion.

Re: U.S. x 2: Proof & Bee Season (2005)

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:01 am
by arsaib4
A remarkably sensitive, consistently engrossing, and ultimately moving tale of a family facing an emotional and spiritual crisis, Bee Season is the third and best film so far from director-duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel (Suture [1993], The Deep End [2001]). Adapted from a 2001 Myla Goldberg novel of the same name, Bee Season exquisitely charts the individualistic struggles of a foursome who are gradually fading away from each other.

Richard Gere plays Saul, a Jewish professor of religious studies, whos the subtly overbearing patriarch of the said family. His wife Miriam (Juliette Binoche) feels suffocated by his presence, and along with attempting to come in terms with her enigmatic past, she starts to wither away in mind and body. Their two children -- teenaged son Aaron (Max Minghella) and 11-year-old daughter Eliza (Flora Cross), our precocious guide -- become aware of the widening gulf between them. Aaron, who already resents his mother, starts to undermine his father as he begins to neglect him in order to tutor Eliza for the National Spelling Bee championships after discovering her uncanny ability. Perhaps to make up for his own failures, Saul institutes his fascination with Kabbalah, the ancient practice of Jewish mysticism, in the lessons to which Eliza ultimately responds to.

One could imagine how difficult it wouldve been to adapt a novel which devotes ample time to each of its fascinating characters, but working with screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, the filmmakers have molded and grasped its essence to the best of their abilities, while losing very little. Bee Season achieves visual and aural elegance due to DP Giles Nuttgens glassy compositions and Ben Barkers intricate sound design. But the most important contributions to this nuanced study are its performers: Gere is intensely physical; Binoche channels a bit of her best from Kieslowskis Blue (1993); Minghella is acutely sensitive; and Cross, whose bottomless blue eyes and a heightened worldview reminds one of Mara Alche, the other "holy girl," is brilliant as she takes charge and brings the film to its emotionally earnest conclusion. A demanding, yet highly rewarding experience, Bee Season is one of the best American films of 2005.

Re: U.S. x 2: Proof & Bee Season (2005)

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 5:28 pm
by A
Hey, you've just made me put two more films on my to-see list
Hope this comes out in Germany.
And I have Kieslowski's Blue on DVD lying beside me to re-view it (didn't get enough out of it the first time some years ago - stupid me ), but now that I've come to appreciate it, my DVD player won't play it.
I'll go and check my local Newspaper, maybe they're playing Bee Season somewhere here already. Need my fix of Juliette Binoche, right now!