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Aidan Quinn

Raw; The Sense of an Ending; Clash; I Am Not Your Negro and more – review

A vegetarian student craves human flesh in Julia Ducournau’s prize-winning Raw, The Sense of an Ending is a bloodless affair, and Huppert singsLast year I was on a film festival jury that wound up, after several hours of finicky deliberation, giving our top prize to Julia Ducournau’s coming-of-cannibalistic-age nightmare Raw (Universal, 18). It was, to all of us, an unexpected vote of consensus for a film that seduces through repulsion. “What have we approved?” a fellow juror asked me with a grin as we delivered our verdict. Ducournau’s debut lands on screen like a live, throbbing heart plucked from its…
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Ghost in the Shell; The Handmaiden; Viceroy’s House and more – review

Carnal pleasures and clever plotting combine in Park Chan-wook’s thrilling The Handmaiden, while Scarlett Johansson is a woman of steelEastern and western identities cross over to striking effect in two of this week’s major DVD releases. Where the English-language, Scarlett Johansson-led Ghost in the Shell (Paramount, 12) took flak in many quarters for “whitewashing” a beloved Japanese manga, South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook’s mischievous The Handmaiden (Curzon Artificial Eye, 18) balances the scales a little by giving a radiant Asian makeover to the brittle Victorian mystique of Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith.As adaptations go, Park’s is far the more fearlessly individual. The…
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The Incredible Jessica James; Life; Neither Heaven Nor Earth and more – review

Netflix’s Sundance hit is powered by the knockout charm of its star, Jessica Williams, while Jake Gyllenhaal heads up a philosophical Alien knockoffFor a brand promoted as the ultimate in couch-cuddling leisure, Netflix’s original films, however thoughtful and rewarding, don’t tend to be wholly entertainment-oriented or go that well with a bucket of homemade popcorn. Up on the streaming service since Friday, The Incredible Jessica James is a breezy exception: a sweet, spry, Sundance-stamped romantic comedy that rewrites no rules of the genre but gets its blithe freshness from the sparky, self-effacing star quality of one Jessica Williams.A 27-year-old comedian…
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Get Out; The Lost City of Z; Kong: Skull Island and more – review

Racial hatred adopts a happy face in Jordan Peele’s exhilarating horror, while an explorer’s search for a buried city is a glorious ode to failureSome films are made in direct response to the politics of their era; others are indelibly claimed by the times in which they find themselves. A sly, savvy horror film that doubles as a particularly grisly comedy of manners, Jordan Peele’s Get Out (Universal, 15) is a bit of both. The fear and restless resistance driving the Black Lives Matter movement clearly informs Peele’s wicked what-if scenario, in which smiling white liberalism proves a ghastly contemporary…
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Personal Shopper; Aquarius; Beauty and the Beast; A Quiet Passion and more – reviews

A haunted Kristen Stewart excels in Personal Shopper, Sônia Braga is brilliantly furious in Aquarius, while Terence Davies’s Emily Dickinson biopic is distinctly unpoeticDoors creak, ectoplasm swirls and wind whistles through crumbling mansions in Personal Shopper (Icon, 15), but Olivier Assayas’s sharp, glassy ghost story is no retro Victorian rehash. This tale of grief taking either uncanny or deliriously illusory form amid the walking cyphers of Paris’s celebrity set is quite the most modern vision of a phantom menace in recent memory – one that sees even an instrument as soulless as the iPhone become a potential conduit of spiritual…
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Elle; Certain Women; Neruda; Frantz and more – reviews

Isabelle Huppert is superb as a complex rape victim in Paul Verhoeven’s fearless Elle, while Kelly Reichardt’s study of female identity is lifted to the heavens by Kristen StewartIs thespian auteurism a thing? Can an actor author a film they haven’t scripted or directed through sheer force of presence? Watching Isabelle Huppert burn herself into the already too-hot-to-handle Elle (Lionsgate, 18), you believe so. Paul Verhoeven, himself a pretty assertive film-making brand, has repeatedly stated that he couldn’t have made this exhilaratingly kinked study of sexuality without Huppert’s “amorality” – a term few but he could apply with such doting…
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Hidden Figures; Heal the Living; A Cure for Wellness and more – review

Theodore Melfi’s feelgood drama about Nasa’s black female mathematicians in the 60s adds up to something special, while Heal the Living is a sublime opera of feelingI first saw Hidden Figures (Fox, PG) alone in a screening room on the morning after Donald Trump’s election victory, in a mood that would swiftly kill the pleasures of many an innocent, well-meaning movie. In this case, however, it proved perversely perfect timing: Theodore Melfi’s rousing, grand-hearted story of the black female Nasa mathematicians who defied civil rights-era workplace prejudice to advance the space race was, corny as it sounds, just the direct,…
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