I'm a sucker for dance sequences in movies, where narrative stops and the only thing that exists is the inebriated will of a filmmaker to melt body and sound in a swirl of motion. Julia Ducournau's "Titane" has 2 or 3 of them. But beyond the stop downs of muscular/shirtless firemen dancing to Future Islands or a woman throbbing to the techno beat on the hood of a hot rod, "Titane" is also immensely buried in the pathos of the people doing the dancing. Toggling between a slasher film, then a psychological thriller and ending on something akin to body horror, she never loses touch with any of the touch points as to why something is happening. As Alexia- the hugely troubled and on the run young woman who may be carrying the demon spawn of a car- Agathe Rouselle is tremendous, speaking with her eye and pummeled body as she forms a perverse but tender relationship with Vincent (Vincent Lindon), also reeling from recent trauma. Ducournau holds it all together with a clear vision, and although the film is described as extreme, "Titane" ultimately tackles some of the most simplest emotions of all- inclusion, forgiveness and acceptance- and in its own sublime way makes everything else the extreme.
There's not much complexity in the late career films of director Eastwood. Even the ones I love, such as "Mystic River" (2003) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), handle their themes with a sledgehammer rather than a fine pen. It's beginning to work against Eastwood, as his latest about an ex-rodeo rider sent into Mexico to retrieve the young son (Eduardo Minett) of his boss (Dwight Yoakem), follows the same beats as his other less-than-stellar efforts about hard edged men seeking forgiveness in a world that seems to have passed them by. Like the worst tangents of "The Mule", Eastwood can't resist the awkward progression of a possible love interest in restaurant owner Natalia Traven. Borne from either tone deaf solipsism or stubborn vanity, "Cry Macho" does the least to preserve the grit-toothed cinematic visage of Eastwood the Great through terrible choices, risible acting and a narrative that lurches along with pretend subtlety.
What begins as a film about the looming spectres of cinema soon turns heartbreaking and reflective as writer-director Mia Hansen-Love explores the relationship between a filmmaking couple (Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth) and their venture to a Swedish island. In what feels like her most autobiographical film to date in a career of achingly prescient explorations of first loves, family, and childbirth, "Bergman Island" also could be read like a rebuke to everything, charting instead how she overthrew her past and became her own person. It's a film full of small moments (what exactly is so amusing to Krieps in the first half, giggling but never explaining) that shifts between layers of meta-fiction with astounding grace. This fiction is the second half where Krieps' idealized script becomes real and embodied by Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie as their stories fold into reality with delicacy. How much of the film overlays Hansen-Love's own entanglements is debatable, but the fact that "Bergman Island" dangles these threads with a keen sense of character and place is telling. It's a film that feels personal and lived-in and all the more beguiling for the things it doesn't say.
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