A plane lands in Amsterdam International Airport and a man urgently rushes off of the plane on some unknown mission. He takes pensive glances of the concrete landscape before getting into a cab to embark on his mission of seemingly tantamount importance. Spy music plays as his taxi speeds through orange sunset explosions to arrive at an apartment, the destination for his secret rendezvous. Prices are frantically negotiated with a woman with Sophia Loren features as she remains apathetic to the man’s desperate mission. He awkwardly mounts the woman to satiate his long unfulfilled carnal desires and for all his troubles and desperation he manages to complete one thrust before this episode of erotic espionage is complete. Slumped over in exhaustion brought on more by the journey than the brief encounter at his destination, the man hears the unmistakable sounds of a cash register as a streetwise prostitute of the Amsterdam canals presents him with a receipt for her momentary inconvenience, complete with VAT taxes and surcharges and a look of impatient disgust. For this man the all too brief encounter was a mission on par with acts of global espionage, but for Greet this was just another day on the job. Paul Verhoeven has set up the first scene in his feature length debut as an elaborate joke, playing on audience expectations with borrowed spy movie tropes to take us into the strange chaotic life of an Amsterdam prostitute.
It’s only a third of the way into Post Tenebras Lux that it falls apart, which is a shame given the magnificent movie it is to behold on a purely visual level. Carlos Reygadas’ fourth film—and first since his brilliant breakthrough, or at least the closest a director this experimental in inclination can come to having one, with 2007’s Silent Light—earned him the best director prize at Cannes last year, an understandable accolade in the face of such extraordinary aesthetic triumph. Look no further than his opening scene, a sequence to rival that even of its predecessor, for evidence that this is one of the medium’s great masters at work. Tracing the plodding path of a delighted toddler through a rain-soaked field filled with animals as a storm gathers in the sky above, it’s a tremendous, terrifying tableau vivant emblematic of all the ill-ease that’s to come.
The horrors perpetrated during the Holocaust cast a pall over the decades hence that has yet to dissipate, and probably never will. Film was in its infancy when World War II broke out, and the medium has been used countless times to depict the period from virtually every angle imaginable. Aftermath finds a way to examine the darkness at the heart of humanity that lead to genocide, persecution, and destruction without feeling like yet another somber period piece.
Bullhead is magnificent. We’re quickly introduced to Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthias Schoenaerts), a small but important player in his family business, which is the handling of illegal growth hormones for the cattle on their farm. They make a good living, and through a shady veterinarian, they soon form a deal with a trader in the beef game with a shady past. But the sudden murder of a police officer investing the ‘growth hormone mafia’ throws everything and everyone off their game. Jacky proceeds to handle the situation easily until a man named Diederik Maes (Jeroen Perceval) comes into his life. Noting is simple anymore. Jacky’s life and his thuggish ways are no longer a guarantee. The deal is about to explode, and nobody sees it coming.
That Kid’s closing credits include the dedication “a hug for” is fitting; few won’t feel the need for one as this exceptional Flemish film concludes. An equally apt title might be Kid without a Bike: director Fien Troch displays a certain style shared with her nation’s most famous cinematic successes, yet the stark sensibility she gradually comes to conceive makes the Dardennes seem positively precious by contrast. This is a marvellous movie, pushing the conventions of child-centric cinema just far enough to seduce audiences into a secure state. Troch’s is a tremendous talent; at once exploiting the ease with which we fall prey to kiddish cuteness and refusing to pander to the ensuing demand for easy conclusion, she delivers with her third feature as accurate a portrait of corrupted childhood as we’ve had in years.
It is often said that music liberates our souls, and The Broken Circle Breakdown uses the sounds of bluegrass to unshackle us from our sorrow and free us into catharsis. Bluegrass, to me, has the giddy rhythm of ragtime – only with strings – with its fast-pace and gleeful lyricism. It has an inherent ability to wash away negativity no matter how big its basin.
But in The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen aims to reveal the subtle yearning hidden beneath a bluegrass band’s high-pitched banjos and close-harmony vocals. The film’s opening lyrics “will the circle be unbroken…?” registers as a spiritual, perhaps existential question. The circle, we can assume, is the one of life, which if we live long enough will lead to trying moments that could harm or “break” our souls.
Documentary films often fall in a combination of the following categories: education/awareness, observational, narrative and persuasive. There are others in between but those are the most popular forms. “Mussels in Love” serves to celebrate mussels while offering an element of education. There have been a rising number of acclaimed food documentaries in recent years: Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Hungry For Change, Food Inc, and Forks Over Knives (To name a few). Will Mussels in Love join the ranks of celebrated food documentaries? Unfortunately this one will get lost in the mix.
Cast: Vladimir Svirskiy, Vladislav Abashin, Sergei Kolesov Director: Sergei Loznitsa Country: Germany | Netherlands |…
Alberto (Nestor Guzzini) is a divorced father who spends too little time with his children, Lucia (Malu Chouza) and Federico (Joaquin Castiglioni). He takes them to an Uruguayan hot spring resort where he hopes they will have a great time and become closer again. Unfortunately, it’s raining, forcing the hot springs closed for most of their stay. To add to the fire, the children are less than impressed with their father. Federico wants to watch television and play. Teenage Lucia would rather be away from her family. As the days get rainier, the rented house gets smaller, leaving the three of them searching for anywhere but around each other.
Fifteen year old Eva van End (Vivian Dierickx) is the quirky overlooked daughter in a seemingly perfect, but dysfunctional family. One day, much to the surprise of everyone except Eva, a German exchange student named Veit (Rafael Gareisen) comes to stay with them for a week. Through their individual interactions with the visitor, the van End family is forced to confront inner truths and deal with the frayed networks in their home.