Combustible Celluloid
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With: Asia Argento, Michael Madsen, Carl Ng, Kelly Lin, Alex Descas, Kim Gordon, Joana Preiss
Written by: Olivier Assayas
Directed by: Olivier Assayas
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexual content, language and some drug material
Language: English, French and Cantonese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 106
Date: 05/18/2007

Boarding Gate (2008)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Bored Now

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Acclaimed director Olivier Assayas constantly searches for something with his films, but often he doesn't seem to know what. A former film critic, he's clearly a movie lover, but doesn't always translate that love to new movies (the way that, say, Truffaut could or Tarantino can). To my eyes, he's never quite equaled the sublime balance he once achieved in Irma Vep (1997). His new Boarding Gate looks like it ought to be a fun "B" movie, and its rusty plot certainly comes intact from a dozen old classics, but Assayas more or less lets his camera run over it like a magnifying glass, vainly hoping to spy something new or interesting. In the end, however, he ends up fiddling too much with the camera focus. Asia Argento plays Sandra, a girl with a lot of lousy ex-boyfriends in her wake. One of her newest boyfriends (Carl Ng) convinces her to betray and destroy one of her old boyfriends (Michael Madsen), but then she herself is betrayed. I'm pretty sure that's what happens, though I'm not sure why any of it happens, or what anyone hopes to gain. In the "B" movie days, a story like this would shoot by in about 70 minutes without time to pick holes in the motives. But Assayas takes a bloated, boring 106 minutes, with everyone whispering their dialogue, and stopping a lot for out-of-focus scenes of airports or clubs or busy street scenes. International actors like Alex Descas, Kelly Lin and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon co-star, in more attempts to add layers of cool.

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