+ "2046": At last! Wong Kar Wai‘s ages-in-the-making sequel to his beloved 2000 film "In the Mood for Love" (a fact everyone dances around, feeling the need to bracket the term in quotation marks or preface it with "unofficial": it’s very clearly a sequel, people) makes its voluptuous way into limited release today. Michael Atkinson and Manohla Dargis are fondest: La Manohla calls it an "unqualified triumph" and notes it’s much improved from the yet-unfinished version that premiered at Cannes in 2004. Atkinson finds that the film’s power lies in its still-living state, in the sense that it has only been abandoned and will forever be unfinished, though he frets that "the movie seems like one of those culminating Ã¼ber-works after which careers often fade to blackâ€”has Wong made the definitive Wongian film?"
Let us agree that use of the word "Wongian" should be strongly discouraged from here on out.
Even Armond White, that cranky bastard, loves it, finding it a refutation of academic theory about the camera representing the male gaze, and, more simply, "all sublimnity." Andrew O’Hehir has a few reservations about the film: "I found the decadent loveliness of ‘2046’ irresistible, but the morning after I felt a little rueful, as if I’d gone to a party and Wong had given me some really good drugs." She declares it needlessly murky, with symbolism that doesn’t add up to anything solid, but says it’s still "among the most beautiful and most mysterious movies I’ve ever seen." Scott Foundas thinks the film is unnecessary, an emotionally chilly, stylish reiteration of themes expressed better in "In the Mood for Love," a film that was, for him, "close to perfect."
+ "Broken Flowers": There seems to be an unspoken agreement amongst critics that Jim Jarmusch can do no wrong, and Bill Murray has ascended to some greater plane of acting awesomeness lately, so it’s hardly surprising that almost everyone has a ringing endorsements for this meeting of the two masters of deadpan. David Edelstein declares Murray’s "Broken Flowers"
the crowning performance in what I call Bill Murray’s Loneliness
Trilogy, which consists of Broken Flowers, Lost in Translation, and The
Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. In his melancholy, he’s funny; in his
funniness, he’s at sea: The ironic hipster clown has become God’s
"No actor is better than Bill Murray as doing nothing at all, and being fascinating while not doing it," says Roger Ebert, who goes on to wonder what, exactly, a Bill Murray imitation would look like and if it would be even possible. A. O. Scott salutes the film’s deceptive complexity of emotions and its refusal to tie things up neatly. Jessica Winter enjoys it, though she points out that it flirts with "About Schmidt"-style sneering at middle American on occasion. Winter also notes that certain female performers in the film have had plastic surgery that verges on the grotesque â€” Edelstein and Stephanie Zacharek come right out and name names, with Zacharek interjecting: "Jessica Lange (whose wonderful face, unfortunately, has lost much of its character, presumably thanks to the dread Hollywood scalpel)."
Matt Zoller Seitz, who clearly worships at the altar of Jarmusch, decides that "Broken Flowers" "doesn’t function simultaneously on five or six levels like Jarmusch’s amazing Dead Man. Most of the time it settles for one and a half." Jonathan Rosenbaum also finds it not quite up to the director’s greatest work. Scott Foundas defends the film from its detractors who would label it a compromise, or too commercial. And David Denby, who seems to be the least predisposed to like Jarmusch, admires the film’s craft but is left cold, ultimately finding it "an art object without the energy or courage to be a work of art."
A correction: We accidentally credited Andrew O’Hehir’s “2046” review to Stephanie Zacharek. It’s been fixed, and, also, we suck.