Category Archives: Drama

Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more

Demonlover (2002) Movie Review

This review of Olivier Assayas’ Demonlover is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

The premise of Olivier Assayas’ 2002 film Demonlover sounds like that of a sleazy exploitation film: business suits battle over the corporate control of violent online pornography, some animated and some far too real. It is a similar premise to the 2008 American thriller Untraceable. One could call Gregory Hoblit’s film a remake if the cold-hearted white collar types where replaced with agents of the law.

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But Demonlover is much more fascinating without the white hat of the law. In the film, the law is so far removed that it feels as though these executives could do whatever they needed to Continue reading Demonlover (2002) Movie Review

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Criminal Lovers (2000) Movie Review

This review of Francois Ozon’s Criminal Lovers is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Francois Ozon’s Criminal Lovers begins as a Bonnie & Clyde narrative, where two kids of 17 kill a man in passion and go on the lam, robbing jewelry stores and convenience stores to get by as they make their way into the countryside. Then, it becomes something more akin to a Hansel & Gretel tale of survival.

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Alice (Natacha Regnier) convinces Luc (Jeremie Renier) to help her kill Continue reading Criminal Lovers (2000) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach’s latest, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), is the story of a family reuniting when a confluence of life events causes them to float together.

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Danny (Adam Sandler) moves back in with his father (Dustin Hoffman) during a divorce that leaves him without income. At the same time, his daughter Eliza (Grace Van Patten) is beginning film school (her first film is a strangely humorous Avant-garde piece about a hermaphroditic superhero).

Danny’s half-brother Matthew (Ben Stiller) is en route as their father prepares for Continue reading The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017) Movie Review

Teorema (Theorem) (1968) Movie Review

“Maybe he will let himself be seduced, and we will reap our vengeance on him.”

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Much has been said about “pure cinema,” the cinematic approach of formalism to accomplish narrative and thematic goals. Classical Hollywood cinema brought with it a brand of cohesiveness in storytelling, an emphasis of plot over image (in most cases) that has made pure cinema more of an anomaly than a true practice.

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s drastically quiet Teorema could be considered an exercise in pure cinema. There are, purportedly, less than 1,000 words spoken in the entire film. This story of a young man coming into an affluent household and seducing every Continue reading Teorema (Theorem) (1968) Movie Review

Twentynine Palms (2003) Movie Review

This review of Bruno Dumont’s Twentynine Palms is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Bruno Dumont’s Twentynine Palms begins unassuming and unsuspecting, with two lovers (David Wissack and Katerina Golubeva) riding down the California highway. It then continues unassuming for the next hour.

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He is an American photographer, and she is a Russian immigrant. They speak different languages, yet they seem to Continue reading Twentynine Palms (2003) Movie Review

Sombre (1998) Movie Review

This review of Philippe Grandrieux’s Sombre is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Sombre is a film that is best described as “rattled.”

The film returns most often to two locations: the home where Jean (Marc Barbe) brings women to kill them and the car that he takes to either dump their bodies or watch the Tour de France.

In both locations the camera is often bouncing around on tight shots of the action. The camera is so tight and frantically moving, in fact, that it is often impossible to discern exactly what act is being carried out and to whom.

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This process of understanding what is happening is not helped by scenes that appear to be shot with natural light at night (at the very least, there is the absence of a three-point lighting system), making these scenes hard to Continue reading Sombre (1998) Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes (2017) Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes, in name and historical story, appears to be a feminist film, and in a sense it is. Mostly, though, it is merely a safe movie about a feminist figure.

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The crux of the film is the tennis match between self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and #1 women’s tennis player Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), but the action begins with Continue reading Battle of the Sexes (2017) Movie Review