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This Week's Film Reviews ( Nov 19, 2021)

11 Nov 2021

Two sports movies open this week - one excellent and the othertoo awfully feel good.  Surprisinglythe better one has so-so shot tennis matches while the other haas impressively filmed rowing matches.  The Canadian indegenous horror movie DON'T SAY ITS NAME is a worthy time-waster.  Forget the blockbuster GHOSTBUSTER: AFTERLIFE.   Best film opening this week, digitally on Bell Lghtbox: TITAINE.

 

 

FILM REVIEWS:

 

DON’T SAY ITS NAME (Canada 2021) ***
Directed by Reuben Martell

 

DON’T SAY ITS NAME is a horror film shot in Alberta, Canada.  It centres on the indigenous community and the destruction of their environment by a invading coal mining company.  There are many superlative adjectives that can be used to describe this flawed film which forts first two thirds work very well, capturing the attention of its audience wile covering several key current issues that are insightful.  It is only when the film returns to its horror genre roots of the stalking monster that it begins to fall apart. working with her partner Andy

The film opens with a girl walking on a snowy wintry road covered in snow.  She notices a car behind her, that moves towards her, and then stops.  It is stop and go before the car runs her down.  The investigating cop is Betty (Madison Walsh) who is indigenous working with he partner Andy (Justin Lewis).  But when a slew of grossly killing occur, Betty enlists the aid of another indigenous woman, Stacey (Sera-Lys McArthur) by making her her deputy in order to solve the mystery of the killings.  Stacey’s uncle Carosn(Julian Black Antelope) reveals the source of he killings.  It is a spirit.

In the meantime, this monster kills and its apart an assortment of victims form a poacher to a surveyor.  Apparently these are people that do harm to he environment.  It all begins with the victims being the circling of a black followed by the foul smell of a dean animal.  Then they are ripped to death.  If all sounds as if it does not make much sense - it doesn’t. Whenever the monster appears in the story the film falls apart.  When the monster appears, it can be seen and shot at by firearms.   The master can also be invisible.  It seems as if the filmmakers are making up the riles as the film goes along.

On the plus side, whenever the film moves away from the monster, and delves into the family lives of the indigenous people, the film takes a better grasp of the audience.  For this reason the film works better in the first half before the monster spirit wrecks havoc.

The film covers two current issues - that of the plight of the indigenous people as well as female abuse.  I is already widely known in Canada especially in the western provinces the increased problem of missing indigenous women.  The film tackles the issues well.  Stacey, one of the main characters is an indigenous female who has served in the military,  She is a tough cookie as demonstrated in the excellent shot segment where in the parking lot of a diner, a white male from the mini company blocks her car so that he can make advances towards her.  She plays along initially before using the butt of her rifle to hit him in the fact, a scene that will cause many in the audience to cheer quietly.

Though not without flaws, DON’T SAY ITS NAME is an often compelling film, that can be regarded as fully indigenous in the good way magnificently shot in Alberta, Canada.

Trailer: 

 

 

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (USA 2021) **
Directed by Jason Reitman


The GHOSTBUSTERS franchise beginning with the first one directed by Ivan Reitman with Bill Murray, Dany Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as the original ghostbusting crew is essentially a kids movie about capturing doubling ghosts but made with adults.  The latest of the franchise afterlife is an update.  GHOSTBUSTERS AFTER LIFE is a kids movie with kids aaa the main characters,  There are 4 of them, too females of whom is one black for the film to be more richly and gender correct in these politically correct times.

The film’s opening 10 mite sequence is filled with lots of special effects in eluding a car that goes speeding in the night only to end up overturned.  It is hard to see what is really happening and to figure out what is really happening either.  The sequence is later explained in the film.  This beginning sequence is a foreshadow of what is yet to come - a complete mess of narrative and incomprehensible story-telling, with many explanations going well above the kiddie target audience but filled with special effects gone berserk.

After being evicted from their home, a single mother, Callie (Cary Coon) and her two children, the younger daughter, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and older son, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) are forced to move to a decayed farmhouse in Summerville, Oklahoma, left to them by the children's late grandfather, where a series of unexplained earthquakes are occurring despite not being situated on any volcanic fault and strange things are happening in an old mine which once belonged to the alleged occultist Ivo Shandor.  The children discover the history of their grandfather with the original Ghostbusters, who have since been largely forgotten by the world beyond their fan base.  When supernatural phenomena relating to New York City's "Manhattan Crossrip of 1984" arises and threatens the world, the kids, along with their family and friends, must solve the decades-old mystery of the relocation of their grandfather and use the equipment of the Ghostbusters, and become their successors to save it.

Phoebe is the brains of the operation - a brilliant scientist despite her age.  This is good inspiration for school kids to appreciate the non-arctic subjects at school.  Mr. GRooberson played by Paul Rude, Phoebe’s teacher, plays the mother’s romantic interest.

The original GHOSTBUSTERS cast make welcome cameos at the end.  Dan Aykrod, Bill Murray play the biggest cameos and the late Harold Ramos makes an appearance too.  The film is lovingly dedicated ‘To Harold’ as the words are announced at the end of the film.  When the original GHOSTBUSTERS song is heard on the soundtrack during the film’s closing credits, the film digs deep into the audience’s nostalgia.  One then recalls how cheesy and amusing the first GHOSTBUSTERS was.

This latest (and maybe final) film had trouble in the making owing to a variety of reasons not including the effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Besides the death of Rami in 2014, Bill Murray had objections to many of the previous scripts.  Murray seems happy and content in this film.

GHOSTBUSTERS:AFTERLIFE, despite a few excellent nostalgic moments from the past films, is a messy update to a kiddies version with too many special effects and horrid storytelling.  

Trailer: 

 

HEART OF CHAMPIONS (USA 2021) **

Directed by Michael Mailer

 

The trouble with sports films in which the underdog team trains and eventually become champions is that they often try too hard to become feel-good movies.  The feel-good aspect should be a consequence of the film and not the purpose.  And often if the filmmakers try too hard, the film becomes over-sentimental, sappy and bait for the critics to divulge.

The film begins with a rowing race, in which the teaming question comes in last as a result of infighting and lack of direction.  The exam captain is Alex (Alexander Ludwig) while the talent Chris (Charles Melton) is the leader that the team actually respects.  John (Alex MacNicoll) is a newbie entering the team while carrying a whole ton of baggage including the death of his parents and girlfriend in a car accident.  Into the picture comes Coach Murphy (Michael Shannon), a war veteran given the task of transforming the team into a winning one.  But his decisions face tough opposition, especially from Alex’s dad, Mr. Singleton (David James Elliot) who wants his son to shine as captain and to hold top spot on the team.

Director Mailer studied at Harvard and was impressed with Harvard’s rowing crew before coming across the script SWING which he championed into HEART OF CHAMPIONS.  He made the Harvard team the enemy in this story as the Harvard team is the difficult one to beat in the rowing championships.

To be politically correct, the actor hired to play the college President and an overall open and nice guy is a black.

“Who is the leader of the team?”  “It is measured in the heart of those who follow.  No one was following you.”  These are the type of questions the coach loves to pose to the rowers.  “What is the purpose?  To work as a team.   Eventually the purpose is known to be the winning of the National Championships beating out their main competitor and regular winner, the Hard team.

The romance slows down the film’s pace a little and could be done away with without much effect.  The romance is likely there to please

Yes this team consists of a large proportion of assholes, the biggest one being the team captain.  The script palsy the fact that all the bulked up beefy rowers have most let it all go into their heads.

Michael Shannon, once again proves himself an outstanding actor.  Shannon (TAKE SHELTER, his breakout role) is a 2-time Academy Award Nominee for Best supporting Actor in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS and REVOLUTIONARY ROAD.  As the coach, he shows that the coach can be both inspirational as well as an asshole.

The camera work is impressive, especially the rowing races.  The camera can never be seen and yet all angles of the boats in the race are observed.  There is a fondness of overhead shots, showing the beauty of synchronized rowing and the majesty of the river.

Despite a solid twist in the otherwise predictable tale, the film cannot help but descend into cliched territory falling into the trap of sentimentality and the need to pull the heartstrings in a feel good movie.  Kudos though, for the young actors and Shannon for their great effort though as well as good camerawork on the rowing.

Trailer: 

EL HOMBRE BÚFALO (THE BUFFALO MAN) (Mexico 2020) **
Directed by David Torres

 

Inspired by true events as the words indicate at the beginning of the film,, writer-director David Torres’  fantastical thriller underscores the grave dangers of investigative journalism in Mexico.  The film follows Eric (Raúl Briones), a driven young journalist in Mexico City who focuses on inequality, abuse of authority and other issues that seem to place him directly in the crosshairs of some very dangerous people.   At the start of the film, he is shot.  But is he dead?  He does not fall on the ground.  Though he’s about to uncover a criminal open-pit mining venture, after receiving multiple death threats, he reconsiders his line of work.  However, after becoming obsessed with the urban legend of “the Buffalo Man” a mythical being who takes care of abandoned children and appears for no reason at several parts of the film, he decides to write again, even if it costs him his life.

The film also follows several other characters that Eric encounters.

Most of the action, rather than taking place is told of its occurrences by the characters of the film.  Eric talks of his mother, who is also a journalist who left him when he was a boy, to stay with his cousin.  his cousin also talks about Eric.  Director Torres loves to have his film jump among his different narrative threads.  When shooting one of his female characters, for example, his camera approaches her from different angles as she is walking before filming her on a bicycle.  All this can be quite confusing and annoying.  Torres has made what is assumed to be an art/experimental film and films of such are often require a lot of patience to take in.  The one hour running time occasionally feels like an infinity.

Trailer: 

 

KING RICHARD (USA 2021) ****
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green

 

One of my favourite films of 2012 is the little-seen documentary on the Williams Sisters, Venus and Serena Williams called VENUS AND SERENA.  Directed by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major featuring the awesome song HEART OF A WARRIOR by Wycliff Jean, the song when played as the sisters battle out their tennis matches is simply euphoric entertainment.  In the doc, their father Richard Williams was seen to be the driving force of the sisters’ success.  

Based on the true story that inspired the world, KING RICHARD follows the journey of Richard Williams (Will Smith), an undeterred father instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, who will end up changing the sport of tennis forever.  Driven by a clear vision of their future and using unconventional methods, Richard executes the plan that will take Venus and Serena Williams from the streets of Compton, California to the global stage as legendary icons.

The father is now the major subject of the new sports drama film produced and starring Will Smith, KING RICHARD.  While telling the story of the success of Venus and Serena, it focuses on the father’s dedication and often dangerous obsession for success.  This makes a good drama that is well written by Zach Baylin.  Drama over a feel good sports movie, even though the feel-good aspect still rears its head to be seen.  The story of KING RICHARD stops once Venus plays her championship matches and comes in number 2 in the world.  The doc went on to show the success of Serena and the injury and rivalry of the sister as both ascend the ladder of mastery.  Still, the drama of KING RICHARD plays well.  Who does not like a good solid drama? There are good super dramatic confrontation scenes, the best two being the ones between an angry wife and the other between the coach and Richard Williams.

Will Smith delivers an Oscar winning performance but the best performance belongs to Aunjanue Ellis playing his wife, Oracene "Brandy" Price.  I would put my bet that she will come away with the Best Supporting Actress statuette.

For a sports drama about tennis, there are surprisingly few segments of the tennis matches.  The only matches seen are those that are deemed absolutely necessary, such as the final match, and even so, the match is shot only from the front and back of the players rather than the side of the court.  The matches emphasize the ball, being in or out rather than the expressions of the players or of the crowd.   Still, this is a film that celebrates the sport of tennis, which makes the film even more enjoyable for this reviewer who plays tennis 5 times a week.

Two sport dramas make their debut this week - KING RICHARD and the Michael Shannon feel-good sports film about college rowing HEART OF CHAMPIONS.  The latter is plain awful, falling into every single trap of story predictability with just unbelievable cliched dialogue.  KING RICHARD, on the other hand, is a sports film that offers an alternative dramatic story focusing on the drama rather than the sport thus transcending the typical sport biopic formulae. 

Trailer: 

MA BELLE, MY BEAUTY (USA 2021) **
Directed by Marion Hill

 

The film opens with a singer, Fred (a very dreamy Lucien Guinard) playing the guitar of one of his songs to his new wife, Bertie (Idella Johnson) who sings it out for him.   Fred then goes to the train station to pick up a woman, unknown to his wife, Lane (Hannah Pepper).  They kiss, which is a first surprise to the audience.  “This will be a nice surprise for her,”  he says.  “She hates surprises,” is Lane’s reply. It turn out what the tree have been having a polyamorous affair.  Then Fred and Bertie got married.  Lane has not kept in touch until the visit now.

As expected, jealousies will erupt, pretentiousness heighten and past skeletons in the close revealed.  Director Hill has made a very boring movie despite having three lovers come together.  The trouble is that each of the three characters look totally self absorbed in themselves and no one else.  Who would really care what happens to each one of them or to what happens in the film.

Director Hill uses silly tactics like loud music played as shots of the building he won are shown.  There is no logic in this or why different buildings need to be shown.  The south of France is beautiful and ancient.  The audience gets it.  Hill also uses slow music when her scenes are shown in slow motion.  There are scenes where the two women ride their bicycles on the country road.  Lane has a toned shirt that flows in the wind as she rides in the wind.  It is a pretty sight, but has been done before, especially in French films and it looks as if the shirt is left unbuttoned to show off the scene rather than satisfying Lane’s comfort.

The south of France is celebrated in Hill’s film.  The scene where the trio bathe in the stream looks like the aqueduct near Avignon, where myself have bathed in the cold water.  The closing credits mention the film shot around Anduze, which is close to Avignon.

A really annoying scene is the evening dinner party scene where Bertie gets to sing to the audience.  Yes, the fan that she is a good singer has already been noted,  But the audience has to sit through an excruciating sequence where the soundtrack is turned up several notches too loud, and Bertie ends up embarrassing herself rather than impressing them.

The part where the newcomer Not (Sivan Noam Shimon) gets to seduce Lane in the new fast sports car, (or is it the other way around) is almost unbearable to watch,  The whole sequence is predictable, corny and silly.   In the film, it seems that anybody can get anyone they wish for sex, because director lane thinks it is so cool.

It is also odd that the character Bertie, who can hardly utter a word of French, is happy in the town in the south of France.  The Fred character is totally annoying too, smiling all the time and acting as if he knows what is going on and thinking he is right and can do anything he wishes.

MA BELLE, MY BEAUTY has been described in the ad as a polyamorous story - whatever that means.  It is just another name for this menage-a-trois.  The film ends up a very bad, boring and pretentious exercise right from the very beginning.

Trailer: 

SHE PARADISE (USA 2020) ***1/2

Directed by Maya Cozier

 

When the film opens, the audience sees a young teen, Sparkle (a breakthrough performance by Onessa Nestor) who says she is 17 at the local market buying peppers.  When she notices a few falling on the ground nearby, she tells the vegetable vendors she does not want the peppers and picks up the ones on the dirt.  Sparkle’s poverty is confirmed when she returns home to her grandfather who has a tough time making a living as a goldsmith.  She loves him (she calls him Papa) dearly but he is strict about rules in his house.  “I can do anything I want, this is my house,” Sparkle complains that Papa goes into her room.  At this point, director Cozier has grabbed the audience’s  affection for Sparkle.  Sparkle is a good person who tries hard, going through a tough life, which many in the audience can relate to.

It is not surprising then that Sparkle is attracted to dancing and the money to be made from it.  Sparkle is desperate to be a soca dancer to escape a dead end life.   She botches her first audition with the dance troupe but uses her wit to convince them to take her under their wing.The girls bring Sparkle into a life of partying, dancing, and young love but is it what Sparkle wants - or needs? She catches the eye of a music producer, Skinny who hires her and her 3 friends to shoot a video.  But Sparkle gets to learn that show biz is not all sparkles.  She falls for Skinny despite warning from her dancing mentor that he is a nasty man who chucks girls away once he has had his way with them.

SHE PARADISE is a coming-of-age story set in a remote town with dance videos, partying and various super-dirty dances as a backdrop.  It is a  tremendously spirited film that is compelling to watch- hilarious and totally entertaining.  It is so much more interesting too to see life in a different country and how young female teens deal with their problems.

Director Maya Cozier is a real prize, kudos given to her for the delivery of one of the most spirited dance films of the year.  His background in dance/choreography is expected.  Cozier has only made a couple of short films (and winning ones at that) in the past.  She gained years of experience working as a dancer/choreographer for music videos and television shows (on her own and as part of a champion hip hop crew that represented the island at the world hip hop championships).  At age 18, Maya had her first international gig when Nicki Minaj flew to Trinidad with Hype Williams to direct the ‘Pound the Alarm’ music video. It was on set as a background model that she became fascinated with the process of filmmaking.  A lot of the naughty dancing in the movie can be clearly seen to have been influenced by Minaj, since Minaj had made famous her ‘booty’ shaking moves.  The boody shaking and gyrating provide a lot of the film’s hilarity and spirit.

The film’s country of origin is the United States.  Though the film never clearly states where it is set, it looks life from some African small town, the setting is actually in a city in one of the twin cities of Trinidad and Tobago, as the closing credits indicate.

Trailer: 

 

THE SHUROO PROCESS (USA 2020) ***1/2

Directed by Emrhys Cooper

 

Directed by Emrhys Cooper and co-written by her and Donal Brophy, THE SHUROO PROCESS  is a dramedy that cleverly bends the drama and comedy of successful journalism and religious cults.

Religious cults have been frequent favourite topics for filmmakers.  In one of Jane Campion’s best movies, HOLY SMOKE, we see Harvey Kietel wearing a bright red dress in the Australian outback.  How he got to this ridiculous stage made one of the best movie making storytelling.  Kietel is hired by a family to de-program and bring back the daughter played by Kate Winslet from a cult in India.  Then there is also the hilarious THE GURU with Mike Myers that I found absolutely hilarious that everyone else hated.   THE SHUROO PROCESS is remarkably funny as the opening first act sees the breakdown of successful journalist Parker Schafer (Fiona Dourif) after her lover leaves her for his ex.  Parker completely loses it at the Awards ceremony.  How low can you go?  Says also, the words at the start of the film.

When a NYC journalist’s life crashes and burns, Parker becomes infatuated with a celebrity guru, and begins a wild journey of love and grand larceny.  Running from her past, she hits rock bottom.   In a drug fueled downward spiral, she blows up her career and reputation in a spectacular act of self-sabotage, giving her best friend and boss no choice but to fire her.   Then comes the cult craziness!  With nothing to lose, Parker reluctantly tries a remote wellness retreat with the famed Guru Shuroo. Over three days, a diverse group of unlikely characters are brought together through Shuroo’s process: digital detox, meditation, gas lighting, mescaline trips… fraud!

The opportunity rises then when Parker makes a discovery.   Will Parker expose the guru and rise back to the top?  The more important question is whether the audience would care for Parker and wish her success.  The answer, because this is more a comedy, is that it does not really matter.  As long as the laughs keep coming….. and they do, nobody would really care.

THE SHUROO PROCESS is no Jane Campion HOLY SMOKE classic, but it is still a solid comedy.  There is a soon to be opening French film that also pokes fun at journalism, Bruno Dumont’s FRANCE which I also highly recommend!

 

Trailer: 

THE STRINGS (Canada 2021) **
Directed by Ryan Glover

 

In the dead of winter, a musician. Catherine (Teagan Johnston aka Toronto indie alternative music artist Little Coyote)  travels to a remote cottage to work on new material, but soon finds herself under attack from a mysterious dark presence.

THE STRINGS is a new horror film from Shudder that is quite different from the normal fare found on the screaming streaming service.  THE STRINGS is an extremely slow burn with the monster or spirit or horror or whatever not appearing until way into the film’s second half.  Lots of patience is required to invest in this story that involves a supposedly talented musician that retreats to a remote residence owned by her aunt by the sea in the dead of winter, though there are lots of awesome winter landscapes and frozen sea.  The film is Canadian shot in Prince Edward Island.  There is also a reference to potatoes, a produce P.E.I. is famous for.  Her music recording equipment are all laid out on the floor and she has to stoop on her knees to write her music. 

The audience also has to bear with an odd and not really credible lesbian relationship this musician named Catherine has with a photographer, Grace.  What they see in each other makes quite the mystery too.   Fortunately, there are no sex scenes.  Catherine discovers an abandoned farmhouse with a dodgy past.  Things then begin to happen.  An apparition of a man appears to Catherine, bringing a sense of dread to the already troubled artist.

“It would help if we did just once in a while everything that we planned,” says Catherine to her collaborator just before she agrees to go along with him anyway,  The film is simply hilarious the way the character Catherine thinks she is God’s great gift to mankind.  She poses to her friend’s camera with her hair blowing in the wind as if she is the Goddess of Beauty.  Or lies in the bath like the Little Mermaid.  She also performs as if she was the world’s greatest musician where the true fact is her music, a sort of alternative kind of sound with lots of strings (hence maybe the film title THE STRINGS) is nothing I or many others will go listen to, even if it was free.  Johnston apparently wrote all the songs and performed them in their entirety in the film.  To be frank, I hated the songs and music, they often coming across as un-melodic noise.

The climax of the film has the apparition haunting Catherine again.  She enters the dark room to see Grace about to and herself together with the apparition next to her.

THE STRINGS premiers on Shudder Tuesday November the 23rd.  Weird slow horror that demands lots of patience.  Warning: nothing is explained in the film.  Unless you like the ‘music’ of Little Coyote and like to see barren winter landscapes, avoid this boring excuse of a horror movie that teases and teases but leads nowhere.

 

TICK, TICK…BOOM! (USA 2021) ***

Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

In the film, the words “ TICK,TICK…BOOM!” are uttered by playwright  and American composer Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield) on stage in New York City describing the sounds he hears.  At this point in his career, Larson is worried he has made the wrong career choice to be part of the performing arts.  The autobiographical story is centred on Larson who had been trying to establish himself in theatre since the early 1980s.

TICK,TICK…BOOM! is now a Netflix film with a limited theatrical run.  It is based on the musical of the same name.   Larson began to perform the piece as a solo work in 1990. After his death, in 1996, it was revised and revamped by playwright David Auburn as a three-actor piece and premiered Off-Broadway in 2001.  Since then, the show has had an Off West End production, a West End production, an American national tour, two Off-Broadway revivals, in 2014 and 2016, and numerous local and international productions.

Larson is an interesting character who died at the early age of 35.  He is known for the successful musical and film RENT.  Unfortunately he died before the success of RENT.  He was noted for exploring the social issues of multiculturalism, addiction, and homophobia in his work. Typical examples of his use of these themes are found in his musicals Rent and Tick, Tick... Boom!  He received three posthumous Tony Awards and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the rock musical Rent. 

The film follows the period in 1990, when Jonathan Larson juggles his duties as a waiter at the local diner with preparing for a workshop for his musical SUPERBIA, which he has been working on for eight years.   One of the film’s key scenes is his hosting of a party at his house with his friends, including his former roommate Michael, who left an acting career to work in advertising, his girlfriend Susan, a dancer who has lost her passion after a nearly career-ending injury, and his fellow waiters Freddy and Carolyn.

Actor, director and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda is the perfect choice to helm the film, having gone through the same experience as Larson did.  Miranda soared to fame after starring in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, the film also winning him an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor.  From the 2-hour film, one can definitely see the pain and diligence that goes into the work of a struggling musical director.  If his film appears too serious, the main lead Andrew Garfield (EYES OF TAMMY FAYE, SPIDER-MAN) lifts the spirit of the film with his spirited acting.  He portrays Larson with just the right amount of exuberance without overdoing the role.  This role might just win him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Larson’s life was largely influenced by writer/composer Sondheim.  The film clearly shows this, with Bradley Whitford.  There are neat cameos to watch out for, including ones from Broadway stars Chita Rivera, Joel Grey and Bernadette Peters.

Those who know and love music theatre will be in for a real treat with TICK, TICK…BOOM! with its impressive list of cameos, apt direction by Miranda and a superlative lead performance by Garfield.

 Trailer: 

 

TITANE (France 2021) ****
Directed by Julia Ducournau

 

TITANE, which means Titanium in English is a 2021 body horror film written and directed by Julia Ducournau.    Agathe Rousselle in her amazing feature film debut stars as Alexia, a woman who, after being injured in a car accident as a child, has a titanium (TITANE) plate fitted into her head.   Is this plate causing her crazy behaviour or is she plain crazy to begin with?

The matter of fact is that it doesn’t really matter.  The film follows Alexia’s crazy life to the final reel where she finally finds self redemption and peace amidst all the f***ed-up s*** that is going on around the world.

The film begins with the source of the titanium plate in Alexia's head.  A little girl named Alexia annoys her father during a drive.   As she removes her seatbelt, her father turns around to scold her, causing a car crash.  Alexia suffers a terrible skull injury and has a titanium plate fitted into her head. When she gets out of the hospital, she shuns her parents and embraces their car passionately.  This is a totally absorbing and disturbing first act, that one wonders immediately after watching it, how director Ducournau can top that.

She does in the second act.  Years later, Alexia, now an adult and wearing a large scar on the side of her head, works as a sexed-up showgirl at a motor show. While there, Justine, one of her coworkers, flirts with her. One night, after a show, a male fan follows Alexia in the showroom's parking lot, declares his love to her, and forcibly kisses her; she then brutally murders him using her large metal hairpin. As she returns to shower after getting the man's drool off her, Alexia hears a banging coming from the showroom. She finds the car she modelled with earlier has turned on by itself and enters it naked. She eventually climaxes as she has sex with the car.  

And Ducournau continues to ‘wow’ audiences in each and every act till the last reel.  Not every segment is easy to watch.  The unsuccessful attempted self inflicted abortion and Lindon’s injection of steroids into his already scarred buttocks that are two scenes will be enough to make many turn their heads away.  Never has a scene been this disgusting since Caspar Noe made SEUL CONTRE TOUS (ONE AGAINST ALL), but all this incredibly, makes the movie.

But Ducournau’s film is not all SAW type slasher killer disgust.  Her camerawork is fantastic and she paints a colourful palette of colours in all her images, including black that often substitutes for the red collar of blood.

TITANE can best be described as crazy f***ed-up s***, but yes, in a good way.  It is not surprising that Ducournau became the second female director to win the Palme d'Or, the festival's top award. TITANE was also selected as the French entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards.  I hope it wins!  My personal favourite for this year’s Best Foreign (International) Feature!

Trailer: 

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