Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2005) Movie Review

This review of Fabrice du Welz’ Calvaire is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.

Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas) is a singer. He wows crowds at retirement homes, but he wants to make it big. On the road to a big Christmas gig, his car breaks down in the woods. A man (Jean-Luc Couchard) in search for his dog leads Marc to an isolated inn run by a man named Bartel (Jackie Berroyer).

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Bartel appears an honest, genial innkeeper. In the morning, he tows Marc’s van to the inn and helps to repair it. But he also Continue reading Calvaire (The Ordeal) (2005) Movie Review

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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

The Houses October Built 2 (2017) Movie Review

Should I start off conversation on The Houses October Built 2 by addressing the logical miscalculations of its very first scene, the cold open which picks up where the first film left off. Last we saw of Brandy (Brandy Schaefer) she was buried alive in a shallow grave, screaming for her life. Now, we find her back in the trunk were she was before being buried in a coffin, being dropped off on the side of the road by the Blue Skeleton haunt crew.

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So, did she fall unconscious again before the masked men took her out of the coffin? Are they magicians? Or was their an awkward moment where they unburied her and dragged her screaming back to the trunk? That would be a bit anti-climactic.

The Houses October Built 2 follows the same formula as the first film, in which the crew of haunted house thrill-seekers travel to Continue reading The Houses October Built 2 (2017) 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

The Houses October Built (2014) Movie Review

The found footage horror film The Houses October Built begins with documentary archival footage and inter-titles that describe how dangerous haunted house attractions can be.

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This intro is appropriate, given that the film is a restructuring of a 2011 documentary film by the same filmmakers. It is seemingly impossible to find a copy of this documentary, so one can only assume that Continue reading The Houses October Built (2014) 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

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