“The Neon Demon” Review

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The Neon Demon (2016)

 “Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing, says Roberto Sarno inThe Neon Demon. Director of this movie, Nicolas Winding Refn, seems to have taken this statement close to heart, and crafted a film where visual beauty is, indeed, the only thing worth paying any attention to, seemingly forgetting that, in film-making, visual representation is never the only thing that counts. Refn (also director behind critically-acclaimed “Drive” (2011)) is now here also the writer, and his story is about Jesse (Elle Fanning), an underage aspiring model, who comes to LA to try her luck in show-business. After gaining initial success, Jesse realises that the climb to the top is thornier than she had previously imagined it to be, especially when a group of fellow models start to covet her natural attributes and instantaneous success. Despite its outstanding visual effects and a promising premise, “The Neon Demon” is preposterous and misguided, that kind of a film which one can easily stop watching half way through, never really caring about the ending.

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“Elle” Review

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Elle (2016)

**SPOILER ALERT**

A Dutch director known for “Basic Instinct” (1992) and “Total Recall” (1990), Paul Verhoeven, has produced his first French-language film to date – “Elle”, based on a novel by Philippe Dijan (also known as the writer of “Betty Blue” (1986)). “Elle” has already competed for a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2016, and deals with a very sensitive topic of a rape perpetuated on a successful businesswoman Michele Leblanc, whose complex relationship with her family and the deeply-seated psychological trauma experienced during childhood, lead her to have an unconventional response to the attack. This film is as disturbing as it is engrossing, and, overall, proves to be a very satisfying experience, thanks to an outstanding performance by Isabelle Huppert (“The Piano Teacher” (2001)), and due to a masterful (though also confusing) mix of a psychological thriller, a Hitchcockian detective story and French black humour.        

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“Two Days, One Night” Mini-Review

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Two Days, One Night (2014)

Two Days, One Night” is a critically acclaimed French-language film directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, probably better known for their previous film “The Kid with a Bike” (2011). The plot here is uncomplicated: Belgium; a depressed married mother of two, Sandra (Marion Cotillard), is having problems at work. The management of her solar-panels-making company proposed to make Sandra redundant if the majority of the staff (9 out of 16 workers) agrees to do so (there will be a secret vote). If the majority votes for Sandra to be redundant, each of the workers will receive €1,000 bonus, but will also be required to work slightly longer hours. In that vein, the film portrays the two days and one night which Sandra spends trying to convince her co-workers to vote in favour of her staying with the company (and against their bonus). Read more of this post

“Tale of Tales” Mini-Review

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Tale of Tales (2015)

**SPOILER ALERT**

Directed by Matteo Garrone, best known for his raw crime drama Gomorrah (2008), Tale of Tales or Il Racconto dei Racconti is a fantasy horror film which comprises three main stories seemingly running in parallel. The first story starts with the Queen (Salma Hayek) and King (John C. Reilly) of the kingdom Longtrellis, desperately wanting a child but who cannot have one, thereby resorting to extreme clandestine measures of killing a sea monster and consuming its heart to have a son, whose identical twin is also the son of a servant woman. Another story tells of the King of the kingdom Highhills (Toby Jones) arranging a tournament to wed his only daughter Violet (Bebe Cave) by making participants guess the large creature whose skin is on display – the skin is that of a flea. The third story centers on two elderly sisters who live calmly away from a public eye only for their peace to be shuttered when one of the sisters becomes bewitched and transformed into a young beauty (Stacy Martin) who, in turn, becomes the centre of affection for the lustful King of the kingdom Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel).

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‘The Neon Demon’ Trailer

“The Neon Demon” is this year’s contender in the Festival de Cannes; Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive” (2011)), the movie also stars Elle Fanning and Keanu Reeves.

“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” Review

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Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

**SPOILER ALERT**

Debuting at the Sundance Film Festival 2013, it first seems that ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ has little going for it apart from the rising stars, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. Behind the façade, however, there is a lot to be said about this film directed by virtually unknown David Lowery, and it soon warms its way to the Grant Jury Prize nomination, winning the Special Jury Award, as well as forming part of the International Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival 2013. With an unusual title – ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’,  the film is set in rural Texas and tells a story of a young couple, Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara) and Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) who are engaged in a crime spree. When an altercation between the police and the couple results in Bob being sent to prison, Ruth vows to wait for him. However, his escape from custody sets people who care about Ruth and her daughter to do anything in their power to prevent the couple’s meeting, making Bob to choose between his love and his family’s safety.

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‘Laurence Anyways’ Trailer

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