In Review: The Aftermath

Period romance The Aftermath arrives to the screen like a silk-draped salve, the kind of sumptuous melodrama with the empty calories of champagne. This one comes with the genre’s chief sommelier Kiera Knightley, fraught with tragedy in gorgeous gowns, torn between two men for our cathartic benefit. But this after dinner cheese of a film is of the stinky variety, the kind that no presentation can really bring to life or save from the off-putting notes in its flavors. Luckily, and forgivably, The Aftermath doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste.

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In Review: Diane

Underrated character actress Mary Kay Place has finally been given a contemporary showcase for her naturalist gifts in Kent Jones’ Diane. As the eponymous protagonist, Place tells a personal story of sublimated grief in a vacant suburban setting. Diane lives quietly, visiting dying relatives and volunteering in a soup kitchen between check-ins with her addict son Brian (played by Jake Lacy). She is as modestly expressive as Place’s other creations, but it’s the deep rooted and unreconciled emotions beneath her sacrificial actions that make the film and the performance something precious to behold.

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In Review: Sunset

In short order, László Nemes has established himself as a director fascinated by creating for the audience disorientation within a physical space and historical context. His Oscar-winning debut Son of Saul tightly followed an enigmatic protagonist in the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz, keeping the horrors of the Holocaust on the fringes of the frame as it examined the personal void of despair. His follow-up Sunset maintains that tightly framed hounding of his central character, but virtually none of its impact or balance between disorientation and complete perplexion at what we are watching unfold.

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In Review: Out Of Blue

Of all subgenres ready for reinvention, the gritty cop drama is one that has had decidedly mixed results. After the peaks and valleys of HBO’s True Detective’s intermittent quality and last year’s poetic but ill-scripted Destroyer, recent examples have flatlined as the now cliched titles that these examples have tried to undermine. Director Carol Morley’s Out of Blue is one hand the most uniquely psychologically conceived modern take on this cobwebbed material, submerging itself in the metaphysical as it solves the central mystery. One the other hand, it is sadly also the most embarrassing one as well.

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In Review: Everybody Knows

All of our greatest filmmakers should be forgiven their misses. Particularly if they aren’t sacrificing their best narrative traits or storytelling identity. They can’t all be winners.

Director Asghar Farhadi has given us a creative downshift with his newest film Everybody Knows. The film stars Penelope Cruz as Laura, a woman returning to her home village in Spain for a family wedding. What begins as a joyous celebration immediately breaks down into long-held grudges and revealed secrets when her daughter is kidnapped during the ceremony. Javier Bardem as Laura’s former lover Paco becomes instrumental in her rescue as we discover that his ties to the family may be more strained than initially meets the eye.

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