REVIEW: Mary Magdalene [2018]

I wish there were a demon inside me. I’m a non-practicing Catholic who hasn’t paid attention in Church since earning my First Communion, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the adjective my mind encounters upon hearing the name Mary Magdalene is “prostitute.” It’s the word the church purposefully utilized to erase her from Jesus Christ’s gospel and why she’s generally spoken about as little more than a distraction or even a temptation he had to combat rather than embrace. Like in a patriarchal society, this maneuver allowed a patriarchal…

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INTERVIEW: Olivier Nakache, cowriter/codirector of Samba

Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano‘s (shown above at middle and right with Omar Sy) Intouchables was France’s Oscar hopeful in 2012 and did make the January shortlist. An infectious crowd-pleaser based on a true story, it vaulted Sy into stardom with a César win over The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin and ultimately co-staring roles in Hollywood blockbusters X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jurassic World. It most likely also opened a floodgate of offers for the duo at the helm, but these Frenchmen aren’t interested in bringing someone else’s vision to…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Samba [2014]

“Red paper. Then … no more.” Every movie should have a score by Ludovico Einaudi and it’s comforting to see Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano agree. After using his haunting music on the brilliant Intouchables, the duo take a few tracks from his album In a Time Lapse to enhance their latest work Samba. Another drama dealing with serious issues oftentimes handled melodramatically by Hollywood, they find a way to infuse each character’s hardship with a delightfully comic streak. The formula is similar to that Oscar nominee with its two…

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REVIEW: Le passé [The Past] [2013]

“Some things can’t be forgiven” If A Separation didn’t cause writer/director Asghar Farhadi to be revered as an auteur who understood domestic strife and illness’ lasting effect on those left to pick up the pieces, you better believe he is now. Switching to France for Le passé [The Past], the filmmaker brings us into an interesting clash of worlds for Iranian Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returning after four years of estrangement from soon-to-be ex-wife Marie (Bérénice Bejo). This pairing of ethnicities underlies the action, especially with prospective fiancé Samir (Tahar Rahim)…

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REVIEW: Black Gold [Day of the Falcon] [2011]

“God hates what we do in his name” The “new” film Day of the Falcon has had an odd trajectory to American theatres. Originally titled Black Gold, Jean-Jacques Annaud‘s contemporary epic in sand debuted at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar and released in the director’s homeland of France way back in 2011. Kicked around the Middle East and Europe throughout 2012, critical acclaim was never earned as it for all intents and purposes got lost before being renamed and packaged for a United States audience that probably won’t…

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REVIEW: The Eagle [2011]

“Please help me regain my father’s honor” The case of Kevin Macdonald’s The Eagle is one of preconceptions and a desire to sound important on behalf of critics. With below average notes across the board and an almost universal slamming of lead actor Channing Tatum, the biggest surprise to me watching was how much I enjoyed not only the stunning cinematography in dream sequences tinted amber and the kinetic masses of muscle, blood, and swords in frenetic fight sequences, but also the central performances of a Roman soldier and the…

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REVIEW: Un prophète [A Prophet] [2009]

“You’ve come a long way” It is weird, but after reading a quick blurb about director Jacques Audiard’s motivations for creating Un prophète [A Prophet], my view of the film went down ever so slightly. It’s not like I thought it was the greatest movie and now I abhor it, no, it is a very well made cinematic work, but I do have to question someone saying that it was made to create an icon for people who have none, meaning Arabs in France. So he is giving these people…

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