Film reviews: Death on the Nile | The sky is everywhere | To flee

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Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile PIC: Rob Youngson / © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox

Death on the Nile (12A) ***

The sky is everywhere (N/R) ****

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have set up Death on the Nile With his 2017 box office hit Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh launches this latest adventure of Agatha Christie’s fearless Hercule Poirot with unexpected virtuosity. Tracing every path to glory with a black-and-white tracking shot through the trenches of a World War I battlefield, it provides absorbing backstory for the Belgian super-sleuth (again played by Branagh ) which also functions as an origin story for the ridiculous mustache that became such a focal point of the first film.

That the first film was a rather weak update to one of Christie’s most famous murder mysteries didn’t bode well for a follow-up. Nor did the subsequent reinvention of the genre that came courtesy of Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, a film that left Branagh’s film looking even more like an airless pastiche. But while Death on the Nile isn’t in the Knives Out league, as a Christie adaptation it’s a much funnier update, with the aforementioned opening giving Branagh more play in his take on the obsessive detective, and the story’s Egyptian paddle steamer. providing a more exotic location for the crimes to unfold.

Gal Cadot leads the large supporting cast as a wealthy heiress whose recent marriage is the occasion for a group of disgruntled friends, family and staff to reunite in Egypt to celebrate her love for handsome Simon. (played by the problematic Armie Hammer). Although the first half of the movie drags a bit as Branagh goes to great lengths to set up all the red herrings that will come into play when one of the parties is found dead, once the crime is committed, he tightens his grip on history. to deliver an entertaining old-school Sunday matinee-style suspense caper. Annette Bening, Sophie Okenado, Leititia Wright and Russell Brand are among the potential suspects.

Josephine Decker’s new movie The sky is everywhere sees the tough director of Madeline’s Madeline and Shirley take on Jandy Nelson’s best-selling YA novel of the same name with typical brilliance. Embracing the melodramatic conventions of teen fiction and teen movies, she brings Nelson’s story of heartbreak and first love to life with vibrant color and dizzying camerawork, perfectly capturing the hormonal histrionics of life. adolescence in all its messy glory.

Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway, Emma Mackey as Jacqueline De Bellefort and Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle in Death on the Nile PIC: Rob Youngson / © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox

Grace Kaufman takes the lead as Lennie, a talented teenage musician reeling from the death of her older sister Bailie the previous summer. Already an orphan, she lives with her grandmother (Cherry Jones) and quasi-hippie uncle (Jason Segel) in an idyllic wooded home in Northern California’s Enchanted Forest, where she’s obsessed with her dog-eared copy of Wuthering Heights. and slums in his sister’s house. clothes surrounded by the ephemera of their common childhood. Upon returning to school, however, she unexpectedly falls in love with Joe Fontaine (Jacques Colimon), the school band’s ultra-cool new trumpet player – a moment of high-octane joy that Decker stages as something out of a musical, the notes of Joe’s jazzy riffs drifting through the air with such force that they topple Lennie and his classmates in a choreographed episode of spontaneous swooning.

But in her grief-stricken state, she also discovers that she is no longer able to play the clarinet and, worse, finds herself reluctantly drawn to her late sister’s boyfriend, who is moping around in her granddaughter’s house. -mother doing odd jobs, unable to continue her life. Full of fairy tale openings, the film takes shape around Lennie gradually confronting the mortifying horror she can no longer hide in her sister’s shadow and Decker appropriating and subverting the genre’s moves. virtuoso cameraman favored by Martin Scorsese (who produced his last film) to place us in the solipsistic headspace of its protagonist as she reconnects to the world around her. It is an intelligent and dynamic cinema.

Ever since Ari Folman floated the idea of ​​an animated documentary with Waltz With Bashir in 2008, the labor-intensive format has meant it hasn’t really caught on for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, it is used effectively in the three-time Oscar nominee To fleea moving film documenting the plight of a gay Afghan refugee forced to leave his homeland after the end of the Russian occupation in 1989.

Director Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s subject Amin Nawabi was just a child when he escaped from his homeland, but he never told anyone the full story of how he came to be. move to Copenhagen and takes the opportunity of his impending marriage to his Danish partner to unburden himself and confront his past. What follows is a remarkable story of courage, pain and heartache told by someone who has repeatedly had to deny who they are for their own survival. This is why animation is the ideal format.

The sky is everywhere

Having come of age in a country where the existence of homosexuality is actively rejected, Amin’s conception of himself is somewhat amorphous, something compounded by the fictions he has had to create for himself regarding the pulls out of his family just to have a chance to build some kind of a better life. Rasmussen’s film reflects this by using animation to construct a portrait of Amin’s life from his fractured memories that is somewhat impressionistic, but veers into more expressionistic territory when trauma distorts his ability to understand horrors. ordinary people are sometimes forced to endure.

Death on the Nile is in cinemas from February 11; The Sky is Everywhere is on AppleTV+ from February 11; Flee is available on select versions and Curzon Home Cinema from February 11

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