They had me until "peace gas." The first half is a marvel, a bleak snapshot of mid-war anxiety that could only exacerbate the contemporary audience's fears that the peace of the 1930's wouldn't last. Unfortunately, the second half takes a sharp detour towards an unearned, ahistorical optimism untethered to either the historical moment of the film's production or the plot of the film itself. The ills of the world can't be solved by zeppelins, you doofs.
There's a moment about halfway through Before Sunset that I can't get out of my mind. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) are sitting in a Parisian café, and she lights up a cigarette. He's got the demeanor of a man who has quit smoking against his will (probably at the behest of a significant other, whom I'm guessing broke his spirit with the subtlest "I just want you to be healthy" psychological warfare imaginable), so he steals a…
A few years ago I was talking to a friend who had just seen David Gordon Green's "All the Real Girls." My friend isn't much of a film buff, but he knew that he'd seen something special. When I asked what he liked most about it, he didn't say anything about the acting or the direction or nuances of the plot. Instead, he simply said "because that stuff really happened."
Of course, my friend was not speaking literally. Instead, I…