NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Mandibules [Mandibles] [2020]

What’s in the suitcase? Look no further than the fact Manu (Grégoire Ludig) was given the job to know how simple it was. While he’s a guy who shouldn’t be trusted to operate heavy machinery, tasking him with the no-questions-asked delivery of a suitcase shouldn’t be far-fetched—especially not when he’ll be given a decent payday for his trouble. Manu needs that money too. He’s lost his home and sleeps wrapped up in a blanket on the beach way too close to the water. Any little bit therefore helps and procuring…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Jumbo [2020]

What is it if it isn’t love? Jeanne Tantois (Noémie Merlant) has never been one for people. Besides her mother Margarette (Emmanuelle Bercot) and co-worker Fati (Tracy Dossou), she’d avoid talking to them all. You can’t blame her for this attitude considering what so many do the moment they witness her shyly eccentric demeanor. She closes her eyes in a wince when someone gets too close and they almost always come back with a chuckle or unoriginal playacting of being “scary.” They mock her, ridicule her, and laugh rather than…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Dasatskisi [Spring Blossom] [2020]

I’d give everyone a five. How do you know a relationship sparked with another is truly love and not merely the absence of the listlessness you felt before its creation—a mere distraction? The answer is probably a simple case of seeing with objective eyes and feeling with an unencumbered heart, but those aren’t easy things to possess while the excitement of the moment remains fresh. So sixteen-year old Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) will continue longing for the serious stranger standing outside the theater on her way to school regardless. And thirty-five-year…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: La nuit des rois [Night of the Kings] [2020]

The prince without a kingdom. Writer/director Philippe Lacôte looks to tell a tale of the Ivory Coast and its most recent two decades of civil war and strife with his latest film La nuit des rois [Night of the Kings]. With that also comes a necessity to speak about the youth who’ve recently taken up residence within the confines of his setting: La MACA. This prison—whose under-thirty population is currently hovering around eighty percent—shifts between the horrors of its inherent violence and the magical fantasy conjured when Lacôte was a…

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FANTASIA20 REVIEW: Une sirène à Paris A Mermaid in Paris] [2020]

The ghosts of my memories are leaning on the bar. Gaspard (Nicolas Duvauchelle) has lived his entire life in pursuit of fulfilling a promise from his grandmother that he’s never quite understood. She was the matriarch of a family that reached well past blood to encompass a group of artistic “Surprisers” who gathered at her famed Flowerburger—an underground speakeasy of sorts doubling as a safe haven for anti-fascist disruptors during the war where song and dance led to poems and love. With a wealth of important Parisian history many will…

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REVIEW: La vérité [The Truth] [2019]

You can’t trust memory. Despite the title of her autobiography being La vérité [The Truth], it takes a while before Fabienne Dangeville (Catherine Deneuve) says what we know to actually be true. Her stories about being a loving mother in text are just that: stories. Despite being a screenwriter, not even Fabienne’s daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) could conjure an anecdote that bore any resemblance to such an idyllic façade if she tried. But while everything boils down to what the aging actress finally expresses during a defensive fit of anger,…

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REVIEW: Alice [2020]

Prejudice is more powerful than logic. It makes no sense. The night before saw Alice Ferrand’s (Emilie Piponnier) husband François (Martin Swabey) going out of his way to passionately make-out with her in front of their friends at a dinner party and now he won’t answer her calls. Despite his running out of the house earlier than usual without any explanation, however, there’s nothing to make her think something is wrong until a trip to the drugstore exposes a freeze on their finances. One credit card won’t work. Then another.…

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REVIEW: Le daim [Deerskin] [2019]

Meet the beast. This is a mid-life crisis. Strike that. This is a mid-life crisis in a Quentin Dupieux movie. I add that clarifier because most people don’t turn into serial killers when buying a high-priced item or having an affair will suffice. But most people aren’t like Georges (Jean Dujardin)—he does all three. Well, strike that from the record too. We don’t actually know if he’s had an affair. All we know for certain is that his wife never wants to see him again. Withdrawing 7,500 euros from the…

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BERLINALE20 REVIEW: La déesse des mouches à feu [Goddess of the Fireflies] [2020]

I feel like I’m wasting my life. Die-hard grunge fan (and drug dealer) Fred (Noah Parker) tells Catherine (Kelly Depeault) she can’t play her Hole cd because Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain. It’s a remark that was probably half joke and half memorial that leads into Keven (Robin L’Houmeau) dropping the necessary wisdom of knowing Love wouldn’t have been able to stop him if she tried. Cobain wasn’t a victim. He lived hard and walked a road of his own making to an end he ultimately embraced enough to pull…

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REVIEW: Les misérables [2019]

Never sorry. Always right. You have to give Ladj Ly credit for seeing the potential in expanding his acclaimed short film about a trio of Anti-Crime Brigade cops outside of Paris in Montfermeil while also knowing it wasn’t perfect. There was a lot packed into Les misérables that could use some room to breathe, but the narrative itself needed tweaking too since the character he and co-writer Alexis Manenti chose to have a horrific mistake the first time around wasn’t necessarily the correct one. So the two joined with Giordano…

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REVIEW: Les misérables [2017]

We’ll shake down Cosette. How do toxic traits shared by plenty of police officers around the world (they exist regardless of whether they’re exceptions or the rule depending on your viewpoint) manifest? Is the attitude that your fraternity trumps abuse taught? Or is it learned? Because we want to believe that this brotherhood only goes so far as protecting a compatriot from the collective danger they face together every time they walk the streets. To continually watch it spill over into this prevalently unwritten code of protecting them from the…

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