On paper, storyteller Alan Bennett's "The Lady in the Van" tries hard to convey what a stinky nuisance it was for him to accommodate a pushy old woman in his London driveway. For 15 years. The film, however, manages even better than the essay to tell this rather incredible story.
The good news is that the Oscar shorts are short; the better news is that they're good -- except for one of the 10. Ever since the Academy has made the nominations for shorts available to the viewing public, the Oscar presentations have been fuller, more fun to anticipate.
Do not expect a knee-slapper from this comedy. Expect the pain of two people living together, told with a knowing smile and sigh. If you've been married more than 30 years, as has the couple in "Le Week-End," you might find parallels.
The good news about "Closed Circuit" is that neither its cloaks nor its daggers are cliches. The plot does not depend on justice prevailing but on reality reigning, so it is more cynical than triumphal. "Closed Circuit" is about terrorism and secrets, duplicity and circuity.
For his latest cinematic project entitled Another Year, British writer/director Mike Leigh, as usual, employed his unique working style for developing his projects. Leigh brings together his cast, has an idea he wants explored, and over several months this collaborative community arrives at the script that will become the film.