The opening scene to The Villainess employs the same video game POV styling of Hardcore Henry, although here director Byung-gil Jung doesn’t mince any words.
While directed flashy, this opening scene benefits from its frenetic whip pans which hide some shoddy CG blood effects. Five minutes into the film, when the camera pulls back to reveal our protagonist for the evening—the almost mechanically ferocious Sook-hee (Ok-bin Kim)—the camera captures stunt choreography more successfully. Still, the whole scene remains overly frantic and shaky.
Why spend so much time discussing the film’s opening scene? It is Continue reading The Villainess (2017) Movie Review
“Maybe he will let himself be seduced, and we will reap our vengeance on him.”
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
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.
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
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.
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
This review of Catherine Breillat’s Romance is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
“You don’t deserve my faithfulness”
The complicated sexuality of Romance is problematic. Not entirely so, as the film explores a side of sexuality that is often left unexplored. But the screenplay reduces sexual philosophy to a binary matter. Even when the shoe is on the opposite foot, entering the perspective of Continue reading Romance (1999) Movie Review
Like Andrey Zvyaginstev’s Loveless, which also had a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen’s Valley of Shadows is a bleak-looking and picturesque look at a small boy lost in the woods. Both use imagery of isolated forests to setup its ominous, gloomy case. With Loveless, it is barren trees hanging dead over a creek.
In the case of Valley of Shadows, it is a massive green forest flowing against the wind like waves waiting to crash down on the two kids who look on in curiosity over the Continue reading Valley of Shadows (2017) Movie Review (TIFF 2017)
This review of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s Inside is part of the New French Extremity Retrospective series.
Inside begins, as its title suggests, in utero, with the image of a fetus that is about to be ruptured by an unseen car wreck. Four months later, the survivors Sarah (Alysson Paradis) and her unborn child are ready for the impending birth. It is Christmas Eve, and the newly widowed Sarah is despondent about the prospect of her first baby.
An understandable apathy, to be certain. The cruelty of having one of the Continue reading Inside (2007) Movie Review