Reviewed by Tim Merrill
To say that fans of modern genre cinema are a discerning lot is like saying Platinum Dunes puts out sub-par films. There’s no doubt that cinephiles in North America have been forced to look abroad to new directors and movies that provide that ever-elusive boot to the throat.
You’d have to be hard pressed to ignore the transgressive wave of cinema that has come out of France in the last six years. With films like Marina De Van’s In My Skin, Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible, and last year’s gut punch Inside, the French have unapologetically set out to carve new boundaries in entertainment that will hold the timid at bay and scar those willing to bear witness. While many considered Inside to set new standards in extremities in French cinema, the release of Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs has just wiped the slate clean.
Although Martyrs will undoubtedly be compared to Inside in terms of its intensity, the film is a bastard unto itself that manages to surpass its comparisons on all levels. Director Laugier has presented an experience that is both cinematically stunning, yet emotionally devastating, and with all the subtleties of a barbed wire enema. Continue reading
A peeping Tom (Frank V. Ross) stumbles into a mutually beneficial relationship with an exhibitionist. Continue reading
Kelly Reichhardt’s latest is concerned with three eco-activists Josh, Dena and Harmon (Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard) who have decided to go further than their documentary-making, organic vegetable-farming compadres and blow up a dam. As they plot to do so, their conflicting characters, backgrounds and motivations are revealed. The operation is a success, of a kind, but has unintended consequences. Confident, ballsy Dena becomes an emotional wreck, sensitive, taciturn Josh grows more and more paranoid, and the conflicts become chasms. Continue reading
Director David Lynch crafted this hallucinogenic mystery-thriller that probes beneath the cheerful surface of suburban America to discover sadomasochistic violence, corruption, drug abuse, crime and perversion.
Kyle Maclachlan stars as Jeffrey Beaumont, a square-jawed young man who returns to his picture-perfect small town when his father suffers a stroke. Walking through a field near his home, Jeff discovers a severed human ear, which he immediately brings to the police. Their disinterest sparks Jeff’s curiosity, and he is soon drawn into a dangerous drama that’s being played out by a lounge singer, Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and the ether-addicted Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). The sociopathic Booth has kidnapped Dorothy’s young son and is using the child as a bargaining chip to repeatedly beat, humiliate and rape Dorothy. Though he’s drawn to the virginal, wholesome Sandy Williams (Laura Dern), Jeff is also aroused by Dorothy and in trying to aid her, he discovers his dark side. Continue reading
Tom at the Farm (French: Tom à la ferme) is a 2013 psychological thriller directed by Xavier Dolan. The film is based on the play of the same name by Michel Marc Bouchard. It was screened in the main competition section at the 70th Venice International Film Festival on 2 September 2013, and also at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentation section. At Venice the film won the FIPRESCI Prize.
Tom, a young advertising copywriter, travels to the country for the funeral of his boyfriend Guillaume. There, he is shocked to learn that no one knows who he is, nor his relationship to the deceased. Guillaume’s brother soon sets the rules of a twisted game. In order to protect the family’s name and the deceased’s grieving mother, Tom now has to play the peacekeeper in a household whose obscure past bodes even greater darkness for his “trip” to the farm.
The Outfit is a 1973 film directed by John Flynn. It stars Robert Duvall, Karen Black, Joe Don Baker and Robert Ryan. The film is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Richard Stark and features a character modeled on Parker, who was introduced in The Hunter.
Career thief Earl Macklin (Robert Duvall) pays no mind to the mobster’s threat. He intends to put a big hurt on an L.A crime outfit. He, his girlfriend (Karen Black) and his partner (Joe Don Baker) will avenge the murder of Macklin’s brother by cutting down gangland operations bit by violent bit. Based on the novel by Point Blank author Richard Stark, The Outfit has a feel and grit that makes it a throwback to film noirs of the 1940s and ’50s. The casting of noir veterans underscores the tone: Robert Ryan, Jane Greer, Marie Windsor, Timothy Carey and Elisha Cook. Hollywood buffs will also enjoy seeing longtime Variety columnist Army Archerd in a bit role.
When the young Jeanne finds out that she could have mistakenly been exchanged, from her cradle, with another newborn (the son of a famous piano player), she decides to contact this family, not really thinking that this could be the truth. After she tells this to the presumed father and the rest of the family, even the son of the piano player starts having more than one doubt about his origins, and all this will lead to the discovery of a murder committed many years before by the second wife of the musician. The story is a pretext to dramatize the misdeeds and the hypocrisy of the French upper class members, shown without pity: the coldness between the family members, hidden by a false happiness; the lack of real feelings; the unbearable ‘bon ton’ of the mother, and so on. (IMDb) Continue reading