In Review!: “The Square”

The silly and serious The Square delights in the agony it creates for the audience. In extended, increasingly uncomfortable sequences surrounding the curator of a national museum, the film delivers cringey laughs over its lethargic length. Director Ruben Östlund has even more on his mind than his previous film, the acerbic family dark comedy Force Majeure, but just as much intention to make the audience uncomfortable for what he reflects back at them.

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In Review!: “BPM”

This year’s Cannes Grand Prix winner, Robin Campillo’s BPM (Beats Per Minute) is a staggering film. Detailing the Paris branch for the Act Up movement during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Campillo and his sprawling ensemble make the most humane film of the year in a year full of them. Embodying a spirit of activism that makes BPM an urgent and timely piece of filmmaking, there is hope in the act of resistance.

That sentiment is putting it mildly for the multitudes that BPM contains. Campillo is intellectually ambitious with the film and exacting in the breadth of what he achieves. It is a film of human beings that love one another, that bicker over crucial nuance and maneuver group dynamics. Human beings that protest, dance, fuck, and that live joyously and die unceremoniously. The outside world is cruel, but in here the water is warm. BPM is a masterpiece.

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In Review!: “Victoria”

Sold on the gimmick of single-take visual chutzpah – though it’s a trick more tested than the hype tells you that it is – Sebastian Shipper’s relentless Victoria comes short on thrills. The rush of the real-time approach is more exhaustive than exhilarating, but provides quieter moments with an edge of organic soulfulness. The result is that the plot services the approach, when it should be the other way around.

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Alone in Berlin, Victoria lives humbly working in a cafe while at university. She meets a rowdy group of partying guys exiting the club, drawn to the charming and flirtatious Sonne. The meeting is touched with the spark of connection, not just romantically with Sonne, but the entire crew of boisterous and welcoming bros. Her relief to finally connect with others – she’s from Spain and barely speaks German – draws her in further until she’s willingly over her head with a bank heist her new friends commit.

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