Chicago ‘18 Review: Get Lost in the Violence and Music of ‘Vox Lux’

Is there anything more satisfying than a catchy pop tune you can’t get out of your head? A tune that pounds its way into the crevices of your brain and infiltrates your every thought? Many times these songs enter our consciousness with little regard to who wrote, who sung it, and how it came to be a hit. But, Brady Corbet’s film, Vox Lux, forces the audience to confront the sinister undertones of pop and its relationship to the spectacle of violence.

Vox Lux is presented in two parts that are defined by two violent tragedies that affect the life of pop star Celeste, played by both Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman. These violent tragedies occur when Celeste is 13 and 31. The first act of violence defines Celeste and shapes her career, her persona, her entire life. The second less directly impacts her, but is still a reflection of her career. Giving much more away would ruin the experience. This is a film best viewed with almost zero expectations or knowledge going in. Let the surprises, twists, and turns wash over you like a bubble-gum-sweet summer ballad that you find yourself mindlessly repeating on your commute home.

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IFFBoston ’18 Review: ‘First Reformed’

After the dark and dismal days of ‘The Canyons’ and ‘The Dying of the Light,’ writer-director Paul Schrader is back in a big way. “Return to form” may be the biggest cliché in film criticism, but I’m hard pressed to find a more apt description for ‘First Reformed.’ The religious drama, starring a superb Ethan Hawke as a small town chaplain living a solitary life following the death of his son, takes everything that makes ‘Taxi Driver’ and Schrader’s other work so fantastic—the psychological complexity, calculated risk-taking, and darkly humorous tension—and catapults it into a 21st century narrative with immediate, real-world consequence.

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Ethan Hawke in “First Reformed” © A24

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Tribeca ’18 Roundup

As the Tribeca Film Festival comes to an end, here’s my take on a few films I was fortunate enough to see. And since it was the first major festival I’ve covered, it shouldn’t be surprising that I was constantly in an “OMG this is really happening! Where am I?” mental state. So, to keep you all up-to-date on the experience, I offered some insight into my scatter brain throughout the festival.

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‘Mary Shelley’ © Focus Features

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Tribeca Film Festival ’18: Curtain Raiser

This Thursday marks the beginning of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, and it’s bound to be a thrilling two weeks in lower Manhattan. With a variety of events and screenings, Tribeca stands out as a festival that explores different types of filmmaking, especially in its inclusion of virtual reality. In light of the Me Too movement, the festival is also hosting a Time’s Up event to further the conversation about sexual harassment in Hollywood, though the festival seems to be taking initiative in including women in film with the many films by female-filmmakers featured in the line-up. This year’s festival looks to be a phenomenal one, so here are a few recommendations.

 

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Woman Walks Ahead ©A24 and DirectTV

 

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