Berlinale ’18 Review: ‘Daughter of Mine’ and Female Nature

There is something wondrous about Vladan Radovic’s imagery in Daughter of Mine, Laura Bispuri’s warm and well-intentioned sophomore feature. The bright pink of candy cotton, the light blue of the sea, the flaming red of a girl’s head and all the other colours let the setting brim with beauty and liveliness. Everything looks gorgeous, but there is no stylization felt, the island of Sardinia is alive in a way that makes you feel the sand beneath your feet, the taste of salt water in your mouth and the warm sun on your skin.

In this landscape defined by nature, a story is told, that is fittingly defined by human nature – the story of the young Vittoria, excellently played the by incredible child (and first-time) actress Sara Casu, and her search for her “real” mother. At first everything seems to be fine in Vittoria’s life – she knows where her place is. Under the wings of Tina, a woman who tries to raise the girl as she seems to think is right, and with the aim to make her a good and stable person, she is protected and safe, but also isolated, as her interactions with her classmates show.

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The 15:17 to Paris: A Train-wreck of Epic Proportions (Some Pun Intended)

09fifteenseventeen2-master768Clint Eastwood is a filmmaker I greatly admired for a large part of my life. The fact that he could be so masterful both in front of and behind the camera was astounding to me. He cemented his legendary status as an actor in Sergio Leone’s ‘Man With No Name’ Trilogy of the 1960s, and did the same for his reputation behind the camera with films like Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River and Gran Torino under his belt. He was someone I greatly looked up to in my youth, mostly because of his incredibly intense and charismatic presence in all of his films.However, times have changed. Just like Eastwood himself, I’ve gotten a lot older, and the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been able to notice the crumbling foundation behind Clint Eastwood’s fast paced and slapdash methods of putting together films. This has resulted in everything he’s made after Gran Torino being either uninspired or just flat out bad.  Even though films like Hereafter, Jersey Boys and American Sniper were all very disappointing, they are nowhere as horrendously incompetent as The 15:17 to Paris.

Where do I even begin with this one? If you showed me this film with no prior knowledge of its existence, and then you told me that it was directed by Clint Eastwood, then I probably would’ve laughed in your face. This movie is an absolute mess from the start. The entire first thirty or so minutes of the movie take place when our main heroes are children, and this is without a doubt the worst directing Clint Eastwood has ever done. The camerawork is shoddy, the dialogue is horrendous and cliched, and the acting is on a whole other level of bad. Everything about this film is wrong, but if you were paying attention to the production details of it, you’d have seen this coming from a mile away.

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Loveless Review: Andrey Zvyagintsev is the modern master of making Russia look depressing as hell

As much as we bicker with our parents, it’s safe to say that no child ever wants to feel like they’re not wanted. Unfortunately, poor little Alexey is the biggest loser of the parental lottery. His parents are going through a divorce so brutal, it makes you question why they even got married in the first place; they have both found new partners and it’s clear from observing their separate lives that their son doesn’t fit into the equation. One night they argue over who should take custody — neither of them wanting to carry what they consider a burden. A shot tracks the mother, Zhenya, as she leaves the bathroom and slams the living room door to reveal a devastated Alexey hiding behind it — his face projecting horror and overwhelming sadness. It is perhaps the most powerful shot in a film full of them. Any cliched metaphor can be applied — a stab in the heart, a punch in the gut — from there, I understood that this was going to be a rough ride, though I was never expecting it to be easy.

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‘Black Museum’: On voyeurism, grisly anthologies, and an appropriately uncomfortable finale

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‘Black Museum’ is the final instalment in the latest series of Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’; which, for anyone that doesn’t know, is one of the bleakest shows around. Often centred around our relationship with technology in the twenty-first century, and often a necessary critique of our obsession with social media and the validation we find in online worlds, it serves up some brilliant nihilism. After five episodes involving various versions of reality, malevolent artificial intelligence, and unprecedented violence, the brilliant fourth series drew to a close with a tale of voyeurism, societal injustice, and twisted curiosity.

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Review: Darkest Hour: The Problem with Biopics

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Lily James stars as Elizabeth Layton and Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jack English / Focus Features

Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen this movie before at some point.

You know what movie I’m talking about: that true underdog story of a man or woman, who was very disliked in the beginning, breaking through their social barriers to make real change, whether that change be in politics, film, music, etc. This film I’m describing is your standard biopic.

The term bio-pic is short for biographical picture, so this sub-genre of film mostly focuses on true life stories of real and influential people, and most of them subscribe to the formula mentioned above. The most popular, and effective biopics use this formula, but make variations to it. The best examples of this would be films like The Aviator, Goodfellas, Walk the Line, Lawrence of Arabia, Ray, and more recently, The Disaster Artist. There are even films like this that break the mold that I mentioned previously like Love & Mercy, Malcolm X, Ed Wood, Man on the Moon, Frida, Secret Honor, The Social Network, Raging Bull, I’m Not There, and Steve Jobs, which use non-linear structures or examine short periods of time in the persons life instead of trying to cover every one of their accomplishments in a two hour time frame.

landscape_movies-walk-the-line-joaquin-phoenix.jpgHowever, the films that have actually perfected this formula are few and far between. The majority of biopics are incredibly stale, bland, and lazy ways of big studios trying to win an Oscar. These films range from being flat out bad (Jobs, Gacy, I Saw The Light, Hidden Figures, J. Edgar, American Made, Amelia, Gold, Jersey Boys, American Sniper) to being painfully average like The Founder, Lincoln, Bleed for This, and most recently, Darkest Hour.

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