Another violent period epic of machismo from Ridley Scott is at hand, but this time, he is adding shades to the dour palette. Bestowed from the unexpected writing collaboration of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and the great Nicole Holofcener, The Last Duel centers on the 14th century tale of Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) and her rape at the hands of Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver). It’s a recipe for much of what we have seen before from the technically prolific director, but this pairing of disparate creatives arrives ready to bring out new notes from each of its collaborators.Continue reading “In Review: The Last Duel”
Most musicals create a heightened reality as part of a prerequisite for the genre, and then there is Annette. The first film in nearly a decade for Leos Carax, the wild risk-taking auteur behind such form-pushing provocations as Holy Motors and The Lovers on the Bridge, Annette is as tortured, joyous, and swooning a work as those in his filmography. His return marks a significant occasion for arthouses, and he meets that sense of event with a film to be tamed during and after one watches it. Annette infuriates and enthrals in equal measure, undeterred by how much of the audience it loses with its one-of-a-kind spectacle. Carax is back and making stylistic leaps as bold and uninterested in the rational as ever, but he reemerges with his greatest sense of reflective humanity.Continue reading “In Review: Annette”
Scott Z. Burns’ The Report puts Adam Driver at the front of an enticing ensemble to meticulously examine the uncovering of the US military’s enhanced interrogation tactics in the wake of 9/11. Like the intended bipartisan investigation, the film sublimates its rage at the administration as much as it can, resulting in a film that’s clinical nature reflects the neutral aim of the reporting it depicts. But as the film’s subtle thesis shows, there are certain ethical lines crossed that transcend neutrality, and the film ultimately simmers with condemnation. It’s the rarest bird of adult dramas for mainstream but patient audiences, unsalacious to the extreme as information flows from familiar faces.
Noah Baumbach opens his newest film, Marriage Story, with a duet of affectionate observations between married couple Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver). Included in their lists of admirations for one another are details symmetrical and some suggest a fractiousness, but among their mirrored responses is their young son Henry (Azhy Robertson). But as the bottom falls out and their love lists prove to be an early exercise in their just-beginning divorce proceedings, this lyrical sequence proves to not be a first deception but a very pointed preamble. Marriage Story is about a divorce, but it remains a love story.
Some might be quick to call BlacKkKlansman a return to form for American auteur Spike Lee, but the film arrives with the conviction of a storyteller who never left in the first place. Which he truly is. Over twenty narrative features (in addition to documentaries and television) and he’s never taken a break from studying the micro and macro of race in America in works alternating between esoteric and accessible. But maybe the distinction is being made because after this extensive career, Lee delivers something to nearly match his most beloved works for their urgency.
Its true story is at once too wild to be believed and just crazy enough to be conceivable: John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth, the sole black detective in the 1970s Colorado Springs police force who infiltrated the local Ku Klux Klan. What begins on a spontaneous action, Stallworth heads a task force that ultimately has Jewish fellow detective Flip Zimmerman assume his identity and makes contact with grand wizard David Duke. Adapted from Stallworth’s book by Lee and a screenwriting team of Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott, if BlacKkKlansman were any more real, it would be fictional.