Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sof Shavua B'Tel Aviv (For My Father)

I admit, I fail to understand religious violence.  I don't get wanting to blow up strangers because they believe differently about God than me.  I know that, historically, Christians have not been exempt from perpetration of violence.  I am troubled by periods of history in which Christians killed or oppressed others and defended it theologically.  And I have always been more troubled by the passages in the Old Testament in which God commands the Israelites to kill their enemies, including women, children, and livestock.

I supposed the same kind of desire for purity in the land that drove the Israelites is what drives the modern Islamicist to want to kill Jews in Israel.  In For My Father (I'm pretty sure the Hebrew title is literally Weekend in Tel Aviv), Tarek doesn't completely buy into the Islamist desire to eradicate the Jews from Israel.  But some friendly neighborhood Muslim terrorists have some dirt on Tarek's father, and promise that by blowing himself up in the marketplace in Tel Aviv, Tarek can restore his father's honor.  Again, this middle eastern notion of honor escapes me.  But Tarek reluctantly accepts their offer.

The good news/bad news is that the switch which would ignite the explosives Tarek is wearing fails.  He flees the marketplace and happens upon an electronic repair shop run by a friendly Jew, who agrees to order a replacement.  Since it's Friday afternoon, and Sabbath is about to begin, he tells Tarek he can't get it until Sunday morning.
With some time to kill, Tarek befriends the shop keeper and his wife.  He repairs their roof in exchange for a meal and a place to sleep.  He also befriends the pretty young shopkeeper across the street, a Jewish girl estranged from her Orthodox Jewish family.  Given the weekend to have second thoughts about blowing people up, he--well, I don't want to give away the ending.

I am trying to think about how I might view this movie were I a Muslim or a Jew living in Israel.  I have a feeling they would say the story is much too simplistic, that such chance meetings and ready friendships between Muslims and Jews are all too rare.  But I also have a feeling that if I were to wander into any given neighborhood in Tel Aviv, I would find plenty of Jews who would, as the shopkeeper did, extend hospitality and friendship to a stranger, Muslim or not.  I am alsosure I would find Muslims who detest the expression of their faith that calls for young men to blow themselves up.

This movie is moving, well-made, and presents a thought-provoking window into a modern yet ancient clash of culture and religion.  Another valuable offering from Film Movement, it's worth your time.

As the Psalmist wrote, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" and Tel Aviv and every other city and town where Muslim, Jew, and Christian live together.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

Friday, April 23, 2010

La Ciudad (The City)

I don't know if there is a more immigrant-rich city in the U.S. than New York, the setting David Riker chose to portray the lives of immigrants in the U.S.  La Ciudad draws the viewer into a very authentic-feeling snapshot of several immigrants as they try to make their way in America.  I am so glad I took time to watch the "making of" featurette on the DVD.  In it, Riker discussed his desire to cast the movie not with professional actors, but with actual immigrants.  We see him canvassing day laborers and interviewing women leaving a garment factory, recruiting them to be in the film.  He interviewed immigrants to get their perspective on the immigrant life, spending 5 years researching for the film.

The movie is a series of unrelated vignettes, tied together by photography sessions in a small studio.  The segments are just long enough for us to get to know the characters and understand where they're coming from, but short enough that we're left wishing we knew more about them and the resolution to their problems.  We gain intimate access to their lives, reading the day laborer's letter from his wife back in Mexico, joining a joyful quinceanera celebration, listening as the puppeteer reads to his daughter in the back of the car they live in.  We wonder, Does the young man find his new love again?  Does the little girl get enrolled in a school, even though she and her dad have no address?  Do the garment workers finally get paid? 

Filmed in black and white, the film has a timeless quality to it.  I would almost view this as a documentary of immigrant life, which happens to follow the stories of a few individuals.  Even thought it is a fictional film, I have no question that the stories so artfully told in La Ciudad have been told many times before, on many street corners in many cities, in many languages.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

Un Dia de Suerte (A Lucky Day)

I like a movie that gives a genuine feeling of life in a foreign place.  Since I'll probably never get to Argentina, and even if I get there I'd probably be relegated to touristy areas, I enjoyed the street-level view of Buenos Aires in Un Dia de Suerte.  As a cultural artifact, this movie is somewhat interesting, focusing on the lives of some poor young people trying to eke out a living during that country's economic crisis.  It was filmed against the background of the 2001 riots, giving it a gritty reality, and hinting at the broader economic issues the characters were facing.

The performanaces weren't bad, but I couldn't get into the characters or the story.  Elsa, the female lead, is pining for her Italian boyfriend with whom she had a brief romance when he was visiting Buenos Aires.  She is trying to earn money to move to Italy to be with him.  Even though she has a hard time making a living--the best laughs come from the scenes of her passing out samples of various products on the street--she has a close circle of friends, and a boy who is crazy about her.  But she is blind to what she has going for her in B.A., placing all her hopes on the faraway boy, who has probably forgotten all about her.
Elsa longing to be somewhere else.

I have always known people who were never happy where they are, always pining for someplace bigger and better.  Elsa is one of those.  We never find out if she finds happiness in Sicily, but I suspect if she finds a new circle of friends there, she'll learn that they have the same discontent that she has.  While watching this movie, I was pining for something better, too, so I can't really blame her.  Not a very good movie, but saved by the cultural, historical perspective.

Bottom line, 2 stars.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra

I do enjoy some of the foreign and art house films I have been watching lately, but every now and then a mindless action movie is fun. When I was a kid, I had the 12" G.I. Joe doll.  When I pulled the string, it gave name, rank, and serial number.  After that, I don't remember watching the cartoons or playing with the later action figures.  If I had, I probably would have loved this new G.I. Joe movie. 

I won't say it wasn't a fun movie.  There was lots of cartoonish action, some impossible but cool settings--like the military base hidden in the middle of the desert and the bad guys' lair under the polar ice cap--and gung-ho good guys.  As is the norm with this type of movie, the special effects were pretty spectacular.  The best scene was the chase through Paris.  The good guys wore accelerator suits which gave them the speed of a car and strength of a machine.  They chased the bad guys, who drove a Hummer armed to the teeth.  The creativity and freshness of ths scene made the movie for me.

Yeah, lots of explosions in this movie.

This is one that the fans will love, the action movie fan will think is OK and then forget it, and the non-action movie fan will be heading for the door.

Bottom line, 2 stars.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DeUsynlige (Troubled Water)

I almost hesitate to write a review of this movie.  On the one hand, I know a movie glutton's shallow comments can't do it justice; on the other hand, I want to say "Watch this movie!" without giving anything away.  It's not like there's some big surprise at the end, a la The Sixth Sense, it's just that the emotional punch might be lessened if you're waiting for it.  No, that's not even right.  It's not an emotional punch, but it is an emotional journey.

I should tell you this is a Norwegian film, so if you don't like watching a movie with subtitles, you'll be disappointed, but you'll be missing out.  Jan Thomas made a terrible decision as a young man that resulted in the death of a child.  After serving his time, he landed a job as a church organist.  (He had a lot of time to practice behind bars!)  By chance, the child's mom, a teacher in town, recognizes him at the church, and becomes obsessed with exposing his crime.
So we get to know the family of the child who died, and share in their grief.  And we get to know Jan, who grieves in a different way, but with whom we can sympathize.  How many times might you have been close to losing your own child through some random act or event?  How many times as an unthinking teen (or careless adult) could you have caused the death of a child?  Think about those stories we hear every year: a toddler drowning in the backyard pool, a child killed by the accidental discharge of a gun, a child run over in the driveway by a car driven by a family member.  The list goes on.  Troubled Water put me in both of those places, drawing me into the emotions of both sides.

Could you ever forgive your child's killer?  Malicious, careless, or accidental, would you ever be able to forgive the responsible person?  Could you ever forgive yourself if you were responsible for a child's death?   The child's mother struggles with forgiveness.  Jan tries to move on and rebuild his life.  He and the church's pastor fall in love (initially only the church administrator is aware of Jan's past).  But the arrival of the child's mother on the scene changes all that.

It is fitting that Jan finds refuge in a church.  (By the way, the organ music in the movie is great.)  Here he gains a sense of forgiveness.  I thought of refuge cities in the Old Testament, where someone who had accidentally killed another could find safety from vengeful family members.  Although at first he expresses skepticism and even disbelief, he eventually takes communion.  I interpreted that moment as his acceptance of God's forgiveness and a step toward forgiving himself.

(The religious message of the movie was powerful, with one caveat.  The church is a place of forgiveness and fresh beginnings, as evidenced by the fact that the pastor has a child, although she never married.  She and Jan talk about that, but then as their relationship develops, they hop in the sack!  OK, I can see the pastor moving on after unwise decisions as a college student, and I'm all for a God of second chances, but I would expect that she might have a bit higher standard of sexual morality after years in the pulpit.  Just a thought.)

Don't waste your time with the next Hollywood blockbuster you're planning to rent.  Rent this instead.

Bottom line, 3 1/2 stars.

By the way, this is another movie from Film Movement.  I'm pretty impressed with the selections I've seen of theirs.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

This is a sweet, funny, moving film.  I'm not sure I'd classify it as a comedy, but it's not a tear-jerker chick flick.  It's a movie for parents, husbands, wives, adult children.  There are a few laugh out loud moments, but mostly the humor comes from Mr Shi's experiences absorbing American life.

Mr. Shi (Henry O) has come to the U.S. from China to visit his daughter, who works at an American university and has recently divorced.  Appalled that she's not eating well, he cooks her traditional Chinese meals, causing me to crave Chinese food.  Mostly, though, he wants to get her to marry again.  Their interactions, and the revelations about her marriage's failure, as well as revelations about his marriage, provide the drama for A Thousand Years.  Shi's days spent learning about America while his daughter is at work provide the humor.

Shi frequents a local park, where he strikes up a friendship with another grandparent.  He meets Madam (we never learn her real name) at a park bench every day.  Madam, an Iranian, speaks Farsi, with a few scattered words of English, while Shi speaks Chinese, with a little English.  Their conversations, and the friendship they strke across their linguistic and cultural barriers, is entertaining yet touching.

On one occasion, a pair of Mormon missionaries drop by.  The portrayal of their earnest attempts to convey their beliefs, in spite of Shi's lack of understanding, does not mock their mission, yet seems to convery a sense of laughable humility.  It also gives occasion for Shi to defend his core belief in communism while acknowledging its failures: "Communist no bad. . . .Communist in bad hand."  Shi says, "Workers in the world, come together.  You free.  You have world.  You know who said this?"  They don't.  Shi replies, "Marx.  Engels."  Revealing either their ignorance or their lack of understanding through his accent, one of the missionaries asks, "Is he a Chinese wise man?"

The title comes from a Chinese proverb: "It takes 300 years of prayers to cross a river with someone.  It takes 3000 years of prayers to share a pillow with someone."  By extension, it takes a lot of prayer for a father and daughter to live together.  This movie is a beautiful reminder to approach our relationships, especially with our family, with prayer, humility, sacrifice, and a good sense of humor.  Highly recommended!

Bottom line, 3 stars.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

El Violin (The Violin)

In El Violin, we meet Don Plutarco, a violinist, and his son and grandson, to whom he has passed a musical gift.  When they're not scratching out a living on the side of some little hill at a tiny village in the Mexican or Central American countryside, they go into town to play their instruments for passersby.  But they're not just simple street musicians or peasant farmers; they're rebels, involved in a resistance movement against the oppressive government.  One day while they were away in town, the oppression came to their village in a military wave of destruction, rape, and murder.
Using his musical gifts and playing on his elderly, simple appearance, Plutarco infiltrates the occupying troops at the village in an attempt to aid the rebels.  Angel Tavira, a professional violinist, puts on a great performance as Plutarco.  In fact, he won the Best Actor award at Cannes in 2005 for this performance.  In the movie, he straps the bow to the stump of his right hand.  I thought this was part of the character, which helped him seem more helpless to the army.  But he is missing that hand in real life, and has played like that for years.

El Violin is simply shot in stark black and white, giving it a classic feel.  The pacing is slower than your typical war/action movie, which this story certainly could lend itself to, but the focus is more on the characters than the actors.  This is a good little movie, thoroughly enjoyable with great performances, but not super memorable.

Bottom line, 2 1/2 stars.

One additional note: this move is part of the Film Movement series, which works sort of like the Book of the Month club, where they send a new movie each month.  These are independent, foreign, and/or low-budget films, which have typically not been released in theaters but have played at festivals to acclaim.  The Fort Worth Library has a bunch of them, so you'll get to hear about more of them here in the near future.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Los Abrozos Rotos (Broken Embraces)

Los Abrozos Rotos is the latest film by Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, considered to be one Spain's top directors.  The best thing I can say for him is that many of his films feature Penelope Cruz, who I think is a terrific actress.  On the other hand, many of his films feature gay or transsexual characters, and they (not gay or transsexual people, but his gay or transsexual characters) are usually very creepy.

Los Abrozos Rotos fits the mold of Almodovar's films: domestic drama with some comedy, to appeal to mainstream audiences, and plenty of symbolism and strangeness mixed in to appeal to his art house fans.  It's the story of a blind writer who was once a famous film director who went by another name.  The story tells of his affair with an actress in one of his films, who was the mistress of the film's producer, and the events leading to the tumultuous end of the affair, the cause of his blindness, and the resulting end of his film directing career. 

I have seen many of Almodovar's films, always with great anticipation because of the glowing critical reviews.  I inevitably come away with a sense of disappointment, as if the greatness of the movie is overshadowed by the supposed greatness of the director.  Although the performances were terrific, and the story is nicely told in a series of flashbacks, it left me pretty flat.

Bottom line, 2 stars.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Answer Man

If someone publishes a book in which he or she claims to have heard directly from God, who gave terrific answers to many of life's big questions, he might sell a bunch of copies, but I think it would eventually be drowned out by the competing claims of other sages and religious perspectives.  That's in real life.  In movie life, Arlen Faber wrote such a book, Me and God, which became an international bestseller embraced across the religious spectrum, while he became a household name, a highly sought after answer man.  He resists publicity, lives a reclusive life, does not answer his fan mail, and is clearly not happy with the lot God has given him.

The Answer Man follows a pretty familiar storyline: the expert who has helped so many people can't help himself.  (A favorite line: After the mailman, a huge fan, meets the real Arlen Faber, who is mean and unsociable, he warns someone else, "Be careful with him.  Maybe he wrote Me and God, but he did not read it!")  Then he meets a pretty young lady who helps him come back to reality.  Of course, there's the obilgatory win the girl--lose the girl--win the girl back pattern.  But formulas aside, The Answer Man provides enough depth and mature comedy to be thoroughly enjoyable.  It's nice to see a comedy that is genuinely funny without a bunch of bathroom humor and visual comedy.

For a movie about a man who has talked to God, there is very little theology here.  What is there is pretty basic feel good pop psychology theology, not necessarily un-Christian, but not really biblical.  For example, someone asks him about the problem of evil: If God is good, why is there pain and suffering.  "Opposites.  Without things that suck, you would have no idea what good was, and therefore be directionless.  You smell sh--, you walk the other way." 

I don't think I will be giving anything away by telling you that Faber fesses up to not actually talking to God.  He cried out to God in a moment of despair, asked a lot of tough questions, and wrote down the answers that came to him.  The viewer is left to wonder if there was, in fact, a certain measure of divine inspiration.  Certainly his writing blessed and helped many, but seemingly in a therapeutic way, not necessarily in drawing them closer to their creator.  But anyone who has struggled with hearing from God can relate to both the dilemma of discerning wisdom and insight from divine leading, as well as the appeal of someone who speaks with authority and certainy, claiming to be God's mouthpiece.

I really like Jeff Daniels, and he was terrific in this role.  And Lauren Graham's performance has to be the most positive portrayal of a chiropractor I have ever seen (even if it is the only one. . . .).  The only problem with the movie is the quick, goofy resolution, and the whole idea that people are so gaga and unskeptical about Faber's claims.  That aside, this is a fun comedy with a tasty dash of theological reflection.

Bottom line, 3 stars.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Blind Side

When I first heard about this movie, I was immediately interested.  I ran out to the library to check out the book and was eager to see the movie.  Any story with a positive look at interracial adoption is OK by me, and this book and movie did not dissapoint!

You have probably seen something about this movie.  Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her role as the mom.  The director, John Lee Hancock, is a Baylor grad.  Michael Oher, the subject of the film, was picked by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 draft.  And millions of people have been moved by this story of compassion, hope, and the real meaning of family.
The nutshell version of the story is that a wealthy white family takes in a homeless black teenager who is a student at their children's exclusive private school.  Although he struggles in school due to his unstructured, nomadic existence, he turns out to be a brilliant natural athlete and is highly recruited by top college football programs.  If this story wasn't true and verifiable, it would be an unbelievable fairy tale.  Are there really families that loving and ready to accept a stranger into their home?  Can a kid who has lived in the worst possible environment be as resepectful, moral, hard-working, loving, and determined as Michael?  Would a lily-white, rich private school in a highly segregated city in the American south readily accept a black street kid?  As far as I can tell from the movie, book, and press surrounding both, the answers are yes, yes, and yes.

In one of my favorite scenes in the movie, the Touhy family gathered around the dining room table for a family meeting.  Michael had been living with them for a while, and the Touhys had discussed becoming Michael's legal guardians.  Mr. Touhy said to Michael, "We were wondering if you would like to become a part of this family."  After a pause, Michael looked around the table and replied, "I kinda thought I already was."  I love this.  From the Touhy's perspective, Michael is part of the family, and they want to make it legal.  They embrace him completely as a son, even (as the book says) making him an heir on an equal footing with the biological children.  From Michael's perspective, he is surrounded by people who love him, who care for him, and to whom he is fully committed.  Isn't that family?  Is a piece of paper going to change that?  I thought this was a beautiful picture of adoption and family.

There is little about this movie not to like.  Although football coaches are not very good actors, it was fun to see the college coaches reenact their role in the recruiting of Michael.  And although Tim McGraw was likably goofy as the easy-going Sean Touhy, he's not a very good actor.  But overall, the performances were terrific, the storytelling superb, and the inspiration was strong.  The movie ends with a reflection on the number of talented kids whose lives are cut short or turned bad because of the violence and pressures of inner-city life.  Michael and the Touhys have established a foundation to help kids like Michael who aren't lucky enough to find the love and support of a family like the Touhys.

One final thought: Michael is enrolled at the private school due to the insistence and advocacy of Big Tony, with whom Michael was living at the time.  Once Tony's wife insists that Michael find another place to stay, Tony is out of the picture.  But as much as the Touhy's, Tony deserves credit for getting Michael on the right track.  If it weren't for Tony's efforts, Michael would proabably still be aimlessly living in a slum. 

One more final thought: I heard someone say this was the most Christian movie they had seen in a long time.  I have no doubt that many involved in the movie are Christians.  The Touhys are very active members of an evangelical church in Memphis, and the director has to be a Christian since he went to Baylor, right? (grin)  Seriously, even though The Blind Side is not an evangelistic film, both the Touhys and Big Tony explicitly state that helping Michael is an expression of their Christian faith in action.  The private school is Christian, and several references were made to their living up the word "Christian" in the school's name by helping Michael.  True faith, the Bible teaches, is to care for widows and orphans.  Even though not every orphan is a future NFL multimillionaire, every Christian should keep his or her eyes open for Michael Touhys in their community who are in need of a place to call family.

Bottom line, 3 1/2 stars.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Taxi to the Dark Side

The War on Terror is a war without precedent.  There are no hostile borders, no enemy countries, no heads of state to target.  The enemy is difficult to identify, and the organizations and alliances are decentralized, varied, and dispersed.  The U.S. has managed to disrupt some of the organizations, take out some of the leaders, but they persist.  Possible abuses of prisoners in the War on Terror have been well-publicized.  Only the hardest hawk would view, for instance, images from Abu Ghraib without at least some level of revulsion.  On the other hand, only the most dedicated dove would not recognize the need to imprison and interrogate suspected terrorists.

Taxi to the Dark Side focusses on the mistreatment of prisoners by the U.S. military.  The title refers to the capture of 4 Afghani men who were implicated in a missle attack on a military base.  They were arrested at a checkpoint by Afghan militia members working on behalf of the U.S.  The problem is that it was later discovered that the militants were working with the actual attackers and turned in these four men to detract attention from the perpetrators and to curry favor with the Americans.  Turns out that a high percentage of detainees at Guantanamo have been arrested in similar circumstances.

The driver of the taxi died in prison due to injuries sustained while being tortured by Americans.  That is an ugly truth, and the film presents ample evidence both of the taxi driver's innocence and the culpability of his detainees.  It traces the policy of torture from the White House to Guantanamo to Afghanistan to Abu Ghraib.  It leaves little question that the policy of torture was taken to excess, and that the information gathered was, at least in some cases, unreliable, if not completely false.

But the film goes too far.  It does not give examples of prisoners who have been tortured and given good intelligence that has been used to thwart attacks.  It does not reference reports that some prisoners released from Guantanamo have returned to their former haunts and have taken part in deadly terrorist attacks.  As well done as Taxi to the Dark Side is, and as well as it makes its arguments, it only gives half the story, and without the other half, is demoted to muckraking propoganda. 

Bottom line, 1 1/2 stars.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


This movie had a couple of things going for it.  It's one of Angelina Jolie's early movie roles; I think she's a terrific actress.  And Penn Jillette has a small role; I think he's hilarious, but he's underused in Hackers.  Other than that, this is not a great movie.  The concept is a little bit cool, but it's amazing how dated and goofy it seems.  The story involves teenage hackers who get their kicks roaming around forbidden computer files and systems.  You have to smile at Dade's mom: What are you doing?  Dade: I'm taking over a TV network.  Mom: Finish up honey, and get to sleep.  The movie tries to make hacker culture look cool, but I left not believing that some of these guys could operate an ATM legitimately, much less control one through hacking a bank's computers.  The teen hackers get into a corporation's computer, unwittingly discovering a plot by the company's cyber security team to blackmail the company.  The security chief (another dorky, unbelievable character) tries to set the kids up to take the fall, but those zany kids foil his plot.  Not a complete waste of time, but a forgettable little film.

Bottom line, 1/2 star.

Friday, April 2, 2010


What if you knew ahead of time that a disaster was about to happen?  What if there was nothing you could do about it?  The concept is as old as the Cassandra complex from Greek mythology.  In Knowing, a few people are given a sort of foreknowledge of major catastrophes.  One of them goes mad.

Professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) teaches astrophysics at MIT.  When his son's class opens up the school's time capsule, most of the kids get cute letters and pictures from their predecessors at the school.  John's son gets a page covered with an indecipherable series of numbers.  That is, indecipherable until the discerning professor notices "91101" followed by the number of victims of the 9/11 attacks.  He then stays up all night connecting the numbers to dates and victims, then figures out that longitude and latitude are included as well.

John becomes obsessed with saving some people from the disasters he sees coming up in the numbers.  His wife had actually died in one of the events in the numbers, so he wants to save who he can. As Cassandra could have told him, his efforts would be fruitless.  But there are some very exciting, well-done sequences--a plane crash, and a subway crash. 

John's son is haunted by some creepy-looking guys with black rocks.  The creepy guys' identity, and the ulitmate purpose for the numerical revelation and the resolution of the disasters, is an ultimate deus ex machina which seemed completely misplaced.  And we learn what Ezekiel was talking about when he describes "wheels within wheels" (Ezekiel 1:15-17).

Late in the movie we learn that John's father, from whom he is estranged, is a pastor.  John has left his father, and his faith, but in the end we see him return to his father and, in his father's arms, seemingly returns to his faith.  While John has been frantic about preventing disaster and saving people, his father trusts God to save and protect him and his family, even in the face of doom.  It took John a long time to learn that lesson, but ultimately he did.

Bottom line, 2 stars.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Muerte de un Ciclista (Death of a Cyclist)

If a movie is in the Criterion Collection, it could be really good or really bad.  Or maybe really dull.  They collect "the greatest films from around the world" and release them on DVD.  So I guess they decided this is a great film, and that Juan Antonion Bardem is a great director.

The movie begins with a couple driving along and accidentally hitting a man on a bicycle.  They decide that rather than help him, they continue on their way, leaving him to die.  We learn that the woman is married to another man.  The progression of the movie shows their struggle keep their crime concealed while keeping their affair concealed.  Their decisions and resolution diverge as their guilt eats away at them.

As I've said before, I'm not a great judge of the quality of film making.  I'll leave that to the folks at Criterion.  The redeeming quality of this otherwise snoozer of a film is the moral lesson.  I've heard it said that integrity is what you do when no one is looking.  (I've heard that attributed to so many different people I won't even bother trying to track down the source.)  If you commit a crime and there's no way anyone can find out, would you turn yourself in?  In Death of a Cyclist, we see one character choose the way of concealment, and descend into a spiral of evil, while the other chooses integrity, and we see the freedom he feels from doing what is right.

Bottom line for me, 2 stars.