Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours opens in New York tomorrow, and as it won't be making its way here for a while (though it will be OnDemand), I haven't gotten around to see it again (or even on the big screen, where I'd imagine it looks even more lovely). So, here's what I wrote in my round-up of 2008. It's absolutely sublime.
Summer Hours [L'heure d'été] - dir. Olivier Assayas - 2008 - France - IFC Films
"Initially, I had listed Boarding Gate higher than Olivier Assayas' "official" 2008 release (Boarding Gate premiered at Cannes in 2007), even though I couldn't justify in words why. Summer Hours is likely the better film of the two, but there's something about the harmony between Asia Argento and Assayas that keeps Boarding Gate from leaving my mind. Placing Boarding Gate and Summer Hours at a tie was the only viable option, even though I probably could have done the same with Gus Van Sant. Like Van Sant, Assayas showed some impressive diversity in 2008. In juggling a metaphysical exploitation film and a somber drama about the dispersion of inheritance after the matriarch (Edith Scob) passes away, Assayas approaches the same multi-faceted issue of globalization, also addressed in Irma Vep and demonlover, in two astonishing arenas. Both Boarding Gate and Summer Hours are deceptively slight, lacking the sucker punch that Hollywood cinema cowardly uses to justify its existence. Yet in the final stretches of each of the two, Assayas makes everything transcendently clear. Both take the risk of being parodies of their expected conventions (Summer Hours consciously avoids showing any of the high drama that would typically factor into a film about the death of a mother) but emerge as profound works from the shamefully underrated director."