From one film season into another: Valerie Donzelli’s Declaration of War marks the next big yearly movie movement, the Cannes Film Festival.  The picture is the opening selection at Cannes’ Critics’ Week, and it’s also opening at the West End Cinema this Friday.  The flick reads like Lorenzo’s Oil-meets-Love on the Run, a visually freewheeling drama about the stresses placed on two parents when their newborn child contracts a deadly illness.  The French really know how to party.

Also starting at the West End: Chico and Rita, an adult-themed animated drama about two people – a talented piano player and a beautiful balladeer – sharing an intense romantic connection that buckles under the force of their respective creative desires.  Chico and Rita received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature; it lost to Rango, but big surprise.  That’s akin to Daniel Day-Lewis winning Best Actor over George Clooney in 2007.  Just because one performance has the cultural and artistic weight of an earthquake doesn’t mean the lesser performance is bad.

Find out more about both films HERE.

One of the most underrated movies released a few years ago was Jay and Mark Duplass’ Cyrus.  The previews sold it as a wacky comedy à la Step Brothers, but the reality was far darker and more human than the (admittedly pretty funny) Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly romp.  I mention Cyrus because the Duplass brothers are back with Jeff, Who Lives at Home, which is playing at the Bethesda Row and E Street Landmarks.  Once again, the film finds the brothers Duplass mining the worst in masculine immaturity for insights; Jason Segel plays a thirty-something slacker who begins his day running a simple errand for his beleaguered mother (Susan Sarandon), a task that turns into an odyssey of self-discovery when he helps his brother Pat (Ed Helms) investigate Pat’s (potentially) adulterous wife.  I haven’t seen Jeff, Who Lives at Home yet, but the premise is classic Duplass: goofy, a little strange, and deeply sad.

For more on Jeff, Who Lives at Home, click HERE.

Finally, we come to the AFI Silver, and Hooray and Hosannas Abound!  The Artist and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy no longer dominate the AFI’s programming slate!  Instead, we get Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Pina.  Here’s the bad news: one of those is a wash, and it’s the one with the grossly overloaded title.  I like Salmon Fishing‘s leads (Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor) a lot, and I even think it’s got a neat premise (the whole, “salmon fishing in the Yemen” thing).  What I question is director Lasse Hallström’s ability to deliver a movie that isn’t drenched in sap and Oscar Season Prestige, and the reviews haven’t been too kind, in that regard. Hallström is a long way from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape or The Cider House Rules; heck, I’d even take another like his imperfect-but-amusing 2006 caper The Hoax.

Thankfully, Pina is much more inspiring.  It’s Wim Wenders (that should be enough for some readers) crafting a cinematic love-letter to dance choreographer Pina Bausch.  The one caveat is that Wenders shot his film in 3D, and the results are ostensibly stunning; alas, the AFI is only playing the 2D version this week.  Not that it matters but so much.  Wenders won my heart with Paris, Texas.  I’ll follow him into any dimension he wants.

Check out the AFI’s slate HERE.

I never understood that whole “things you own end up owning you” line until my Kindle tried to auction me off on eBay.

Community DC Film Beat: Metro Area Cinema for 20 March – 27 March