It's midway through 2008, and therefore time to take a look back at the excellent films released so far this year in Sacramento. It shouldn't take long, since by my count, there have been two: "WALL-E" and "The Visitor."
Since everyone and their 3-year-old is aware of the charms of "WALL-E," I will focus on "The Visitor," my favorite film of the year so far.
The story of hemmed-in college professor (the superb Richard Jenkins) invigorated by unexpected relationships with an immigrant couple (Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira, both revelations) and the man's widowed mother (Hiam Abbass, stunning in every sense), "The Visitor" is the kind of carefully observed character study that reminds film lovers why they fell for this particular art form in the first place.
The characters are so well-rounded, and their behavior so emotionally authentic, that this quiet film engages the viewer more thoroughly than any pyrotechnics-filled summer action movie.
What's especially nice about "The Visitor" is that it's stuck around for two months -- an unusually long run for a small film.
Bryna Lovig, box-office manager at the Crest Theatre, where the film will play at least through the weekend, says film-goers are seeing "The Visitor" more than once. The movie's percussion-heavy soundtrack (Sleiman's character is a professional drummer), which the Crest features as its "walk-in," or pre-show, music, "is also getting rave reviews," Lovig says.
The film's trailer (shown above, via YouTube), should give you a sense of its loveliness and emotional power. But for the full impact, go see "The Visitor" this week at The Crest.
It's showing at 5:50 and 8:40 p.m. and is rated PG-13.