No Such Thing (USA)

directed by: Hal Hartley
starring: Sarah Polley; Robert John Burke; Helen Mirren; Julie Christie
No Such Thing
Laura says: "Helen Mirren steals every scene she's in as the grasping, chain-smoking media exec. Outfitted in purple and black ensembles and a platinum bob, she's like a corporate Cruella. Informed of Beatrice's presence on the doomed aircraft, Mirren is clearly confused as to how to react, recovering to bark out an order. This is a great performance in a maddeningly misguided film. Also good in smaller supporting roles are Christie, who provides some much-needed warmth in a largely inconsequential role and Annika Peterson as Mirren's perplexed assistant. Kormakur is comical, playing the mad scientist role as if he were in a Guy Maddin film." 2 cats
For Laura's complete review: ""
Michael says: "I have been eagerly anticipating this film because it featured three of my favorite movie types... Hal Hartley, Sarah Polley and Helen Mirren.

"Buzz around this new film had been rather negative... largely, I think, due to the trailer on the NO SUCH THING website, that makes the film look like a mainstream film... which is certainly is not. It's Hal, through and through. We'd thought that they were doing tests because of this negative buzz... however, it turns out they're doing the tests because of some unfortunate, satirical jokes about terrorism.

"At any rate, we're not really supposed to discuss the specific points of the movie too much, since it will probably be a different version when finally released, but suffice it to say that I really loved it. Sarah Polley and Helen Mirren are outstanding as an innocent, waifish assistant, and her hard-nosed, cynical boss respectively, on a television news show. Robert Burke (UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH, SIMPLE MEN) plays the monster. Julie Christie also appears as a brilliant doctor in Iceland.

"Hartley tackles a stairical look at the media... and does so with humor and real emotion. Some of Polley's scenes as she undergoes a series of traumatic hardships are amazing. And the slow revelation about the monster while hardly unexpected is still surprising. " 4 cats
Peg says: "From idiosyncratic filmmaker/composer Hal Hartley comes something wholly unexpected: An Icelandic monster movie. But not quite a horror film. We first meet the monster (ROBOCOP's Robert John Burke) confessing on tape to some brutal murders. The tape finds its way to Beatrice (Sarah Polley), a self-possessed secretary who works for network news maven Helen Mirren (cold, bitchy, perfect). Beatrice travels to Iceland to discover what happened to a missing news crew (including her fiance) . Her plane crashes and after painful surgery (at the hands of a pensive, luminous Julie Christie), she eventually finds the monster that devoured the journalists and half the island village.

"Burke is a marvel as the monster, a profane, hard-drinking, erudite sort in a Victorian frock coat with leathery stalactites growing from his head. He’s been alive forever, and nothing can kill him but the willful imagination of a myopic Dr. Artaud (many literary and mythic homages here), and Brave, kind Beatrice (Polley is perfect as this tough ingenue) agrees to help him die.

"Dark, absurd, romantic, NO SUCH THING is quintessential Hartley (inscrutable dialogue, bold color, emotional dysfunction) but also bears the stamp of filmmaker/ co-producer Fridrik Thór Fridriksson (CHILDREN OF NATURE) and production designer Árni Páll Jóhannsson, whose vision of Iceland is a mossy, alien moonscape. There will be inevitable comparisons to Cocteau’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, but Hartley eschews melodrama for a knowing clarity, and his dreamy, edgy musical score is a revelation." 3 cats