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Paths crossing

September 28, 2006

Let's catch up with two of the best films I've seen in quite a while and which a lot of you were probably not quick enough to catch when they passed through for only a day or two: "Changing Times" and "Jumping Off Bridges."

"Changing Times" is a near-perfect movie. It's the sentimental tale of how convenient relationships often trump true love connections.

Antoine and Cecile were lovers 30 years ago. Antoine (Gerard Depardieu) travels to Tangiers on business and sees a chance to reconnect with Cecile (Catherine Deneuve), who is married to a Casablancan cad, content to keep house and raise a son, who's now off in his own confused world in Paris but who returns for a visit with his equally confused girlfriend.

Depardieu is both heartbreaking and matter-of-fact in his quixotic mission to rekindle long-lost romance. He tells Cecile and her husband, separately, of his intentions for her. He makes it clear to her that he doesn't merely want to seduce her again or win a contest for her. "I want to grow old with you," he tells her.

Lubna Azabal is haunting in the dual role of estranged twin sisters, one a practicing Muslim, one not.

Director Andre Techine layers this beautifully. It is a sad, hopeful, touching movie.

Grade for "Changing Times": A

The Southwest Film Center at UNM brought "Jumping Off Bridges" to town in early September. It is Austin filmmaker Kat Candler's study of teens dealing with the suicide of one of their parents.

This is one tough movie. The performances Candler elicits from a mostly teen, mostly local cast are knockouts. Every main character -- from the central figure Zak (Bryan Chafin) to the fourth wheel of the gang, Jessica (the wonderfully expressive Katie Lemon in her debut) -- feels real. It's a testament to Candler and her cast that big-time star Michael Emerson (Henry Gale on TV's "Lost") doesn't stand out.

There were several key moments during the film when I feared we were treading near "Afterschool Special" territory. But each time I thought we were headed somewhere ordinary, the plot turned me around. And the music is particularly effective throughout.

"Jumping Off Bridges" still has no distribution deal, so there's no chance to catch it anytime soon. But Candler said she is taking her film to New York in November, so maybe it will come back around in full theatrical release or on DVD.

Grade: B+

Posted by J.A. Montalbano at 01:13 PM |

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