Capsule reviews for Jan. 6

Norwegian Wood

Overlong but compelling character study from Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung (The Scent of Green Papaya), based on a novel by Haruki Murakami, follows a college student (Kenichi Matsuyama) in 1960s Tokyo who is torn between relationships with multiple women, including the girlfriend (Rinko Kikuchi) of his best friend who committed suicide years ago, leaving her mentally unstable. Although the film struggles to capture the poetic quality of the source material, it’s a well-acted and poignant story of grief and passion. The mood is downbeat and the characters are slow to warm to the audience, yet Hung creates some visually striking imagery. (Not rated, 133 minutes).

 

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

This defiantly unassuming drama from Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three Monkeys) rewards patience but certainly is not for all tastes. At its core, the film is a murder mystery about a remote nighttime search for a missing corpse that turns into an extended, deeply personal conversation between cops and bureaucrats. While the overall intent of the film remains cloudy, the film achieves some fine character-driven moments and conveys images of haunting beauty along the way. Ceylan’s approach might seem frustrating and inaccessible to some, but there’s an audacity to his unique vision that can’t be dismissed. (Not rated, 157 minutes).

 

Roadie

Uneven but heartfelt low-budget drama from director Michael Cuesta (L.I.E.) features a strong performance by Ron Eldard as Jimmy, a longtime roadie for Blue Oyster Cult who reluctantly heads back to his house in Queens to reunite with his ill mother (Lois Smith), then finds that his high-school crush (Jill Hennessy) is now married to a childhood rival (Bobby Cannavale). The script is generally predictable, but it also provides a touching look at a man whose life is in a period of transition. It achieves its modest goals by capturing its setting and offering a peek into a lifestyle that’s both addictive and depressing. (Rated R, 95 minutes).

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