Review of reviews: Film & Music
Directed by Julian Rosefeldt (Not rated)
Cate Blanchett roasts art’s revolutionaries.
“Manifesto is an art film in the truest sense,” said Peter Debruge in Variety. An out-there work that asks Cate Blanchett to assume 13 different guises as she recites a string of art and political manifestos, it proves “compulsively watchable” against all odds. Though it never shows disrespect for the visionaries being quoted, it reminds us “there’s something inherently humorous” about people trying to shake up the status quo by declaiming their beliefs. Blanchett plays a hobo shouting from a rooftop, a high-speed securities trader, a scientist, a sanitation worker, and a CEO, and she “uses her talent as she never has before,” said DanCallahan in TheWrap.com. The contrast between the characters’ words and the context in which Blanchett speaks them generates most of the entertainment, and she earns her biggest laughs delivering a dadaist mission statement as an angry funeral eulogy. In another scene, she’s a stern Eastern European choreographer giving dancers impracticable directions: “Strangle crate boxes” or “Make railway mist.” Is Manifesto a celebration of artists’ earnestness or a parody? asked Amy Zimmerman in TheDailyBeast.com. The possible interpretations are endless, and that may be the point. Manifesto “begs questions instead of answering them.”
Directed by Philippe Falardeau
The real-life Rocky lets fame go to his head.
Liev Schreiber’s new boxing movie has much in common with its flawed hero: “a lot of personality, just enough ambition, more interested in a good time than a lasting impression,” said Robert Abele in the Los Angeles Times. Schreiber stars as Chuck Wepner, the galoot from Bayonne, N.J., who in 1975 lasted 15 rounds against Muhammad Ali. That improbable bout inspired Sylvester Stallone to make Rocky a year later, but there’s more to the story, and Schreiber “gives Wepner’s rise and fall an earthy, human-size appeal.” Fame and its temptations unraveled Wepner, and that’s the story Chuck tells, “more dutifully than artfully,” over its final hour, said Chris Klimek in NPR.org. Playing Wepner’s scorned second wife, Elisabeth Moss “gives an object lesson in how a top-tier actor can make so-so writing shine.” But she’s pushed aside when Wepner lands in prison, then pursues another lover (Naomi Watts). However rote the plot gets, Schreiber buoys each scene he’s in, said Joe McGovern in Entertainment Weekly. In that, the casting couldn’t have been more apt: “He’s one of the most underappreciated actors playing a guy who never got enough respect.” ■