By Clint Holloway | Indiewire September 13, 2013 at 4:01PM
There's a certain elegant simplicity to the movie's execution that maintains a spirit of familiarity but also keeps the material afloat.
By unearthing a series of interviews conducted in 1975 with the elderly Benjamin Murmelstein, the only survivor of the so-called "Elder of the Jews" in charge of the ghetto, Lanzmann resurrects the aesthetics of "Shoah" while extending its narrative into a new chapter.
On the whole, "Manakamana" succeeds by creating the ongoing anticipation of something, anything to happen next, a wholly unique sensation specific to its inventive design.
It's impossible to look away -- not only because the sense of anticipation is so vivid, but because there's no other way to follow the bizarre plot than keep with it.
If not a definitive achievement, it nevertheless offers a uniquely riveting experience that plays like a culmination of the movies preceding it – and an ideal starting point for exploring them.
If you can groove with Jarmusch's patient, philosophical indulgences and the wooden exteriors of his characters' lives, the movie rewards with a savvy emotional payoff about moving forward even when the motivation to do so has gone.
As usual, Hong's camera generally just sits there and lets the scenario organically unfold, but the actors are especially lively and the dialogue fits together with puzzle-like finesse.
Though it lacks a cohesive means of fusing together its interlocking vignettes, "Palo Alto" effectively showcases the despair and sophomoric rebellion of teen life with a mature eye that clearly establishes a new filmmaker to watch.
Farhadi's nuanced storytelling results in an overlong and sometimes lethargic feel, occasionally to the detriment of its seriously fascinating plot, but for that same reason its set of surprises continually resonate.
If not a fully realized movie, it offers a cogent record of the capacity for the past to inform the present, ending with a fleeting expression of concern for the next stage -- and hinting at the chilling possibility that it might one day require a sequel.
Compared with most psycho-thrillers, "Real" never attempts to make the depths of a troubled mind into a compelling labyrinth.
Though the movie contains no voice recordings of the author, it's certainly effective at giving him more dimensionality than the tenuous mythology surrounding him.