Summer Hours (d. Olivier Assayas) - This beautiful and beautifully acted French film, about a wealthy French family, whose matriarch passes away in an early scene, struggling to deal with her estate (consisting mainly of a gorgeous country home, and a sprawling collection of artwork), is not actually about family strife so much as it is about losing your past, and how much more meaningful art can be to the individual than it ever will be as art. Charles Berling, as the eldest son Frederic, gets the top marks, but as I said, everyone is superb. And for a movie with such a small, intimate story, there's an incredible pace to it, of the kind that would utterly confuse your run-of-the-mill contemporary thriller filmmaker. Carried along, no doubt, by those performances. Top shelf.
Extract (d. Mike Judge) - Each of Mike Judge's live-action films (I'm excluding Beavis and Butthed Do America, because I remember that being a bit of a sensation at the time) has taken its own sweet time finding an audience. Office Space and Idiocracy were both dumped by their studios, and each has gained cult audiences of varying degrees of healthiness. His newest film, Extract, actually got a legitimate theatrical release, and still nobody went. Nobody who did go seemed overly taken with it, and my expectations were therefore low. But I really enjoyed it, as it turns out. It's not as near-perfect as Office Space, or as occasionally riotous as Idiocracy, but unlike that latter film it also doesn't run out of steam in the last third. It's consistently genial and entertaining, bolstered by a terrific cast of outstanding deadpan comic performers -- Jason Bateman, J. K. Simmons, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, and the inhumanly attractive Mila Kunis, to name a few. Mike Judge knows ordinary people, and he knows what's so funny about them.