This week, instead of grousing about the state of cinema, let's celebrate the continued existence of the good little films that could.
I haven't yet seen Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, but I am greatly looking forward to it, mostly because those two polar opposites of Chicago film criticism, the worldly, intelligent Jonathan Rosenbaum and the popular Roger Ebert, both called it a masterpiece. Running nearly three hours, it chronicles the final couple of days in the title character's life; he feels ill, calls an ambulance and fails to convince anyone that he's actually dying. It currently has a deathlock on two screens with a weekend gross of $354 (yes, that's right -- three hundred and fifty-four dollars) and a total gross of about $41,000.
I've already raved in this space about Hou Hsiao-hsien's latest film, Three Times, which could be his most universal work to date. Broken down into three segments, it tells the story of three romances in three different eras; the same actors, Chang Chen and Shu Qi, play the couple in each. Even if the second two segments somehow fall short, the first segment, set in 1966, is easily Hou's most delicate, emotional work. Three Times is on three screens, enjoyed a weekend gross of about $3,000 and has grossed $81,000.