77 Juliette Binoche’s filmography already reads like a Bazin-quoting video store geek’s wet dream—Godard, Haneke, Kieslowski, Assayas and Hou have all harnessed her radiance—and with Certified Copy, she adds an Abbas Kiarostami film to the CV. Although it’s his first narrative feature made outside of Iran, Certified Copy is classic Kiarostami: People drive and talk and then park and walk and talk some more. Chatty Cathys James (William Shimell) and Elle (Binoche) meet in postcard-perfect Tuscany and immediately proceed to that stage in a relationship where shit constantly greets fan. These being some Kiarostami-grade class acts, they fight about love as if it were art, and vice versa. The slow unfolding of their strange arrangement creates the illusion of profundity, but the nonstop verbiage masks rather trite insights into what love means and how art works. That said, it’s always a pleasure to watch Kiarostami’s traveling long takes unfurl in eternal golden hour, and with Certified Copy he has something sublime to follow: Binoche, of course, whose iridescent performance is an effortless dance of flustered fragility and deep sorrow. In the end, it’s middling Kiarostami, but it also might be Binoche’s greatest achievement. CHRIS STAMM. Opens Friday at Living Room Theaters.
25 The true story of Bethany Hamilton is basically a gender-switched 127 Hours, except she gets her arm stuck in a shark. I attended out of a sense of responsibility to the amputation-movie beat and because, hey, it could always defy reason and be good. Nope. Soul Surfer is Dennis Quaid quoting Bible verses and Carrie Underwood trying to explain the mysterious ways of God—schmaltz for Jesus. If you know the premise coming in, the early bits are filled with unintentional humor: There’s little Bethany (wholesome AnnaSophia Robb) playing ukulele...for now! The movie teases with underwater cameras in that coy, post-Jaws way, but when the shark attack occurs, it’s absurdly abrupt and somehow funnier than anything that came before. But what comes after, complete with unpersuasive hide-the-limb CGI, is the comedy of the year. There’s a scene in which the family is about to eat dinner, but Bethany reminds them they need to say grace first, but when they start to hold hands, she can’t hold hands, because she doesn’t have a hand. That sort of thing. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be so cynical, and plenty of people will be inspired by Soul Surfer to...surf, maybe, or help tsunami victims, or help tsunami victims surf. But this is the first movie I’ve ever attended where the security guards were unsuccessfully stifling laughter. PG. AARON MESH. Opens Friday at Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Cornelius, Pioneer Place, Cinema 99, Bridgeport, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Sherwood and Wilsonville.