Tag Archives: Sofia Boutella

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 99 – Climax

A group of dancers parties the night away, but someone has spiked the sangria with LSD. There are extraordinarily long takes, sex, drugs, violence, and horror. Yes, it’s a Gaspar Noé film.

Climax is a singular cinematic escape into a vision of Hell. Boy, there’s a lot going on. We grapple with the film’s themes of sex, violence, drugs, youth, dance, sexuality, nationality, culture, and whatever else we can remember of its insane 96 minutes. We discuss what we did and didn’t like about the dancing – the pros and cons of the way it’s shot – and what value there is in extraordinary cinematic violence in a world in which footage of horrific real-life violence is commonplace. We discuss the detail of Climax‘s cinematography and editing and the effects they have on our experiences, particularly shooting upside-down and inserting almost subconsciously brief flashes of black frames in otherwise normal cuts. We’re reminded of Do the Right ThingThe Exterminating Angel, and Salò, and indeed Climax wears its influences on its sleeve. José reads it allegorically, finding reference to Europe, cultural power, and race, though so far adding it all up remains beyond us.

It fired Mike up enough to have a go at a guy who’d had his phone on during the cinema, but it enveloped José so completely that he didn’t even notice the distraction. And Mike made a film like this once! As he puts it, “Not as good as this, probably, but a lot shorter.” You can see that here if you like:

In short, Climax is certainly worth your time. There’s so much going on and we’ll be seeing it again when the mac screens it in November.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 75 – Hotel Artemis

hotel artemis

A tight yet sprawling high-concept thriller, Hotel Artemis features glorious performances from Jodie Foster and the wonderful cast that surrounds her, surprising pathos and a beautifully built world. José expounds upon his love for Foster and explores the details of her performance here; Mike discusses what makes the world-building so effective and elegant. We’d have liked to have seen stronger, more expressive visual storytelling – there’s so much potential in this single sanctuary hidden within an unforgiving world – but, well, nobody’s perfect.

The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, Germany/Sweden/USA, 2017)

 

atomic blonde

Atomic Blonde lost me in parts and the story is not very well told. But I loved seeing Charleze Theron embodying that 70s comic-book via Helmut Newton clichéd lesbian dominatrix character. I loved the look, the styling, and the fight scenes. And it’s got a marvellous cast: James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan and, quickly becoming my new favourite, Sofia Boutella. Lots of great 80s tunes, plus it’s set in Berlin just as the wall is coming down. Lots to love. I think it will have a long afterlife across various platforms.

A look at panels from The Coldest City,  the graphic novel by Anthony Johnson on which Atomic Blonde is based on is illuminating. The look and styling is completely different: she’s not a blonde for one thing. The French agent is a man, so the whole lesbian Sofia Boutella element is an interesting twist. Also, the James McAvoy character seems about twenty years older in the book. The film nonetheless follows the narrative of the graphic novel extremely closely. Fascinating in terms of how they’ve re-visualised and styled for the film

José Arroyo

The Mummy (Alex Kurtzman, USA, 2017)

the-mummy-et00050002-02-12-2016-01-37-33

 

I don’t remember Tom Cruise being as badly miscast as he is in The Mummy. He’s meant to be cool, suave, nonchalant, catnip to the ladies and slightly unethical with it: a cross between Paul Newman and Errol Flynn. Instead, well…. he’s Tom Cruise: focussed, intense, over-committed, unwavering, humourless. He’s a very good actor and I like him. But he lacks a light touch. At least he’s better than Russell Crowe who I didn’t realise was in it and might as well not have been. He fails doubly, as Dr. Jekyll AND as Mr. Hyde, and he recites his lines in the worst English accent I’ve ever heard in a recent film playing both parts. The only actors who walk away with any honour from this disaster are Jake Johnson, best known from New Girl, who is actually funny and charming as the sidekick; and Sofia Boutella as Ahmaned, the evil Egyptian queen who starts the narrative rolling and who looks terrifically terrifying. I also hated the look of the film, a return to that dingy and dull slate greys, dark blues and metallic chromes that has so unnecessarily blighted cinema since the turn to digital. How Alex Kurtzman got the gig to direct this film is a story I’d like to hear. He won’t be getting another opportunity soon.

 

José Arroyo