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Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

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After Pina, Wim Wenders returns to 3D.

Pina, a documentary about a dance company, worked well in 3D. But Every Thing Will Be Fine — a drama starring James Franco, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rachel McAdams, and Marie-Josée Croze — might as well have been flat. Nothing in the film required or benefitted from 3D.

Persistent Depression

Gainsbourg and Franco hope everything will be fine
Gainsbourg and Franco hope everything will be fine

Franco plays Tomas, a writer struggling to write at an ice-fishing cabin away from his wife, away from the city. A powerful second scene involves a snowy road, a distracted driver, and a child sledding at dusk. That scene changes Thomas’ life’s trajectory and introduces him to Kate (Gainsbourg), the child’s mother.

No, this is not a romance. If anything it’s the opposite. Tomas returns home to his girlfriend Sara (McAdams), and their relationship quickly disintegrates.

Tomas slips into depression. Over the course of several years, various people try to help, including his editor (Peter Stormare), his father (Patrick Bauchau), and a new woman named Ann (Croze). He even revisits Gainsbourg’s character, where his problems began, but Tomas’ depression is resilient.

Frankly, there isn’t much to the story from screenwriter Bjørn Olaf Johannessen. There are three beautiful actresses and one handsome actor, but that’s not enough.

Camera Tricks

Wenders seems to be practicing his 3D filmmaking. There was a scene or two of an ominous house behind an otherwise friendly mailbox. Many windows catch different reflections in the two eyes (a trick Jean-Luc Godard seemed to like in Goodbye To Language).

Wenders also attempts something vaguely cinematic — when a conversation gets deeper and more heated, he cuts closer and closer to the eyeline — nothing new there — but half a dozen times in the film, he cuts so close that characters are speaking directly into the camera. In 3d, those closeups seem to have more power.

But none of this lends aid to a story that desperately needs help.

If you like your cinema cold, aloof, and mysterious you might enjoy Every Thing Will Be Fine. But most of us will prefer something better than Fine.