| Nov 15, 2014
| 8:47 AM
"Happiness" (PBS, Monday). I am, as a rule, a fan of the films that make up the PBS documentary series "Independent Lens," which tend to spend intimate quality time with the kinds of people TV usually ignores for being too far off, too foreign, too poor or too little schooled. But there is something especially moving to me about this film, an achingly beautiful pocket epic by French director Thomas Balmés ("Babies"). It focuses, closely, on Peyangki, a 9-year-old Buddhist monk in a dying lamasery in a remote mountain village in Bhutan. Nothing much happens. Peyangki is sent by his widowed mother to live with the monks, even though the monks have been quitting the village; later he will accompany his uncle on a trip to the city to buy a television set and to see his older sister, who has left a job as a clerk and is dancing in a nightclub. But nearly every shot is the beginning of its own book -- books about family, and nature, and work, and yaks. Though the film is about the new world penetrating the old, the 21st century meeting what might easily be taken for the 12th, "Happiness" taps into something deeper, larger, more ancient and essential, wondering and wonderful. It is exquisitely photographed, not in a way to prettify things but to recognize their beauty. There is life even in the rocks. The final images, in which the camera looks into the faces of villagers as they watch television, perhaps for the first time -- it's "Wrestlemania" by the sound of it -- feel almost cautionary, but also full of love and tenderness. There's art in it, of course -- there is nothing random in Balmés' structure -- and we are being led to certain ends: not to judge, but to understand.
| May 14, 2010
Having successfully subsidized world peace, Tony Stark has now become more of a supersized three-ring circus in "Iron Man 2," and that's the crux of this sequel in a nutshell.
Aside from nifty special effects, the original film had star Robert Downey Jr....
| May 10, 2010
Turns out that "Iron Man 2" was a bit less popular with moms than expected, while "Babies" was a whole lot more. Though executives at Paramount Pictures are still calculating the precise figure, a person familiar with the situation at...