In Review: Censor

Naked nostalgia in genre filmmaking has become one of the more instantly off-putting modes in recent genre filmmaking. Constantly serving us the same broad reference points without a context to make them interesting, the lingering trend relies on our enthusiasm and knowledgeability for the genre to gas up unfulfilling stories. Results have been self-serving, and too often unable to produce something terrifying thanks to too much mimicry. Censor is a thornier horror retread however, with more specific influences on its mind and a perspective on how to incorporate them in an original way.

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In Review: Undine

With Undine, German auteur Christian Petzold returns with yet another fablistic, allegorical musing on modern German life that touches its toes just beyond the boundary of the real world as we live in it. But this one, after the era-transposed adaptation Transit and the transfixing post-WWII quasi-romance Phoenix, is perhaps his most rooted in lore (both fantasy and historical), his most otherworldly, and his most swoon-inducing. Here he uses the elemental myth of the water nymph to reflect romance and a national identity haunted by periods of transition, where the birth of something new doesn’t so easily mean the death of what came before.

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In Review: Cruella

Another Disney live action revisit of their treasured stories and characters has arrived with a stench. Directed by Craig Gillespie from the work of no less than five credited writers, Cruella looks at its eponymous dog-murderer as a young woman tiptoeing from grifter towards anti-hero, a shadow of the outright evil villain we know her to be. Emma Stone is at the reigns as Estella, a young woman whose more wicked impulses allow her to adopt the Cruella De Vil persona that is still largely unrecognizable to the iconic character as we know her. It may not be the worst of Disney’s recent bastardization of their archives—it’s hard to imagine The Lion King or Alice in Wonderland having a challenger, but let’s not jinx ourselves—but it certainly is one of the most brazen in terms of betraying its source.

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In Review: Dream Horse

The casual and lovely Dream Horse tells the true story (previously revealed in the Sundance prize-winning documentary Dark Horse) of Jan Vokes and her Welsh community coming together for shared purpose. Played by Toni Collette,Vokes muddles through in her idyllic working class village until she sparks with the idea to raise a racing horse. The exorbitant cost of the endeavor leads her to recruit the financial help of the entire town, uniting everyone not only through a common goal but a shared dream of a brighter existence beyond their simple lives.

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In Review: The Killing of Two Lovers

Robert Machoian’s The Killing of Two Lovers opens on the quaking face of its central father David, played with aimless despair by Clayne Crawford, as he stands over the sleeping bodies of his estranged wife and her new boyfriend. He aims a gun at them with unsure and impulsive hands, but quickly sneaks off and runs to his father’s home, seemingly terrified of the violence he was considering. As we watch his next days, horrific personal violence always looms as an option, like the fog that hangs over his desolate mountainside town.

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