In the opening sequence of Ron Fricke’s Samsara, we watch a performance by three young dancers. At the end of their dance, Fricke closes in on one of their faces, and holds the shot, and holds it longer, in a tight close-up. It’s a fascinating little moment, a conscious effort to make us, as audience members, hyper-aware of the act of really looking at something. You’ll be doing a lot of that at Samsara, which is Fricke and producer Mark Magidson’s long-awaited follow-up to their gorgeous 1992 film Baraka. Like its predecessor (and Koyaanisqatsi, for which he was cinematographer), Samsara is not a standard documentary: there are no talking heads, no voice-overs, and no explicitly stated themes. Fricke tells his stories in breathtaking images and stirring music, and they encompass nothing less than the entirety of the human experience.
Dax Shepard and David Palmer’s Hit and Run is not a great movie, not by a long shot, but boy is it a hard movie to hate. Tonally, it’s a bit of a mess, an uneasy hybrid of ‘80s action/comedy homage, Tarantino-esque two-handers, and heartfelt relationship stuff—something like a True Romance remake directed by Hal Needham. So it’s too busy and too scattered, but honesty must prevail: I laughed often, sometimes heartily. And the film almost solves the increasingly perplexing dilemma of what to do with Kristen Bell.