dir George Clooney; with Matt Damon, Julianne Moore 17/US ****
On the surface, this is a 1950s-tinged noir thriller with comical overtones But it also has a pungent undercurrent of satirical social commentary, which isn't partiularly surprising for a team-up between George Clooney and the Coens. There are so many facets to this film that it can't help but keep us engaged, whether being gripped by the mystery, feeling challenged about the injustice or identifying with one young boy's rather horrific coming of age.
Reinventing Marvin [Marvin]
dir Anne Fontaine; with Finnegan Oldfield, Catherine Salee 17/Fr ****
The thoughtful story of a young artist's journey to self-expression, this film is sometimes brutally honest about the tension between what are known as provincial attitudes and so-called enlightened liberal sensibilities. The film may be in need of some judicial editing, but the material here is resonant and important. And it's also beautifully played by an intriguingly eclectic cast that includes Isabelle Huppert in a witty role as herself.
dir-scr Mazen Khaled; with Carol Abboud, Hamza Mekdad 17/Leb ***
An experimental exploration of masculinity and male friendship, this Lebanese film is very tactile as it follows a young man over the course of a fateful day. While touching on some social issues, the main focus is on his friends, who remain by his side through a very detailed ordeal. There isn't much plot, and very little sense of character for the actors to work with, so it never quite resonates emotionally as it should. But it's darkly involving.