Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nicole & Catherine

Good news; Nicole Holofcener and Catherine Keener are working together again . If you've seen any of Holofcener's previous films (especially my favorite Walking and Talking) then you know her stories of barbed female friendship are the perfect match for Keener's facility with witheringly angry and sarcastic characters. The new Please Give is Holofcener's fourth film since 1996; her credits also include a few episodes of Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, and Six Feet Under, but that's it. It's hardly a new question, but what kind of gauntlet are we making our directors run?

The central dilemma to the movie is the question of what to do with people's possessions when they pass on; in that sense, the film is something of an American version of Olivier Assayas' recent film "Summer Hours." Both movies spend a lot of time puzzling over the value of everyday objects. "Summer Hours" asks "What is it that makes something valuable?" "Please Give" asks "Is it fair to declare something valuable?" Holofcener examines the issue effectively, thoughtfully, and humorously for an hour and a half and doesn't ultimately arrive at an answer. I wouldn't have expected her to. She's not interested in moralizing; her brand of comedy is about observation, not judgment.

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