Film reviews: Paris 13th | Deep Water | X | Beehive | Phantom of the Open

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Paris, 13th PIC: Shanna Besson

Paris 13th (18) ****

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The Phantom of the Open (12A) **

Jacques Audiard from A Prophet collaborates with Céline Sciamma from Portrait of a Lady on Fire on Paris, 13th arrondissement, an anthology intertwined with stories about lust and love, produced by the former and co-written (with Audiard and Léa Mysius) by the latter. Set in the titular Parisian neighborhood – characterized by an imposing collection of skyscrapers – the film first revolves around Émilie (Lucie Zhang) and her new roommate Camille (Makita Samba), whom she immediately hired in a casual sexual relationship. But when things go wrong, the film turns its gaze to Nora (Noémie Merlant), a 32-year-old former real estate agent freshly arrived in Paris and full of enthusiasm for her new beginnings as an adult student. Nora’s world also quickly goes downhill, however, when her immature classmates mistake her for a sex chat webcam star named Amber Sweet (Jehnny Beth) who she vaguely resembles. At this point, the film devises intriguing ways to bring the two sets of characters together, with gender being the connecting force that attracts and repels them.

Shot in beautiful black-on-white, the film lends a timeless character to the very modern urban life of these characters, who all seem to suffer from a kind of emotional malaise caused sometimes by the distancing effect of technology, but also unacknowledged. the grief and family pressures of yesteryear. Audiard is good at unraveling these deeper elements without resorting to melodramatic clashes, and he’s aided by a brilliant cast that grounds their characters’ sexual urges and blocks with recognizable human behavior.

deep waters

Which is more than can be said for deep waters, a trashy erotic thriller from Adrian Lyne, the veteran British director of Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal. Respectively cast as a cuckold tech guru who no longer has to work and a bored free spirit who openly flaunts his infidelity, Ben Affleck and Ana De Armas are heroically terrible as a dysfunctional married couple engaged in an ongoing series of games of toxic society that escalates when Vic d’Affleck drunkenly tells Melinda’s last lover of De Armas that he murdered one of his former lovers. This quirky joke (or is it?) seems to awaken a more dangerous side to Vic, something that manifests in a series of absurd twists from the film’s source novel, Patricia Highsmith.

What follows is an increasingly silly exploration of the seemingly aphrodisiac effects of murder; the end result, however, isn’t without entertainment, with select high camp moments as it does, including a dinner scene where Affleck implicitly threatens someone with his snail collection.

Sex and death are also on the menu of X, the new film from cult indie horror director Ti West (The Devil’s House, The Sacrament). A slick genre experiment that serves up old-school thrills with very meta French New Wave twists, it’s set in 1979 Texas and stars Mia Goth as Maxine, a coked-up dancer constrained by her employer-boyfriend (Martin Henderson) by participating in a gonzo porn shoot that goes horribly wrong.

The film’s ambitious director, RJ (Owen Campbell) and his girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega), plus the film’s other on-screen talents: Marilyn Monroe-esque Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow) and uber-stud Jackson ( hip-hop artist Kid Cudi). Stacking them in the back of a pickup truck to make the trip to the film’s rural area in the film, West immediately pays homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but as fictional filming begins, he disrupts expectations with cuts. intriguing twists that connect the characters in deeply unsettling ways with the creepy elderly couple who own the farm.

X, directed by Ti West

Saying more might spoil the fun, but West’s playful mix of loving tribute and full-throttle bloodshed makes for a heady cocktail, with one scene in particular (this is an aerial shot of a character swimming in a lake) as a good representation of the horrors that lurk unseen like anything in recent years.

Party at the Sundance Film Festival last year, Hive centers on a Kosovar woman struggling to make ends meet following a wartime massacre that may have claimed her husband’s life seven years earlier. Based on a true story, Blerta Basholli’s film begins with Fahrije (Yllka Gashi) stoically searching a truck full of body bags for her missing husband’s corpse, then continues along similarly dark lines as she encounters abuse. misogynists from the villagers who oppose his efforts. mobilize local women to help him start a food manufacturing business. Spinning everything to the same flat effect, Basholli’s film is an intentionally harsh watch, but its message of triumph over adversity hits harder as a result.

Based on the true story of Maurice Flitcroft, the British amateur golfer who made it into the Open after taking up the sport on a whim, The Phantom of the Open is another one of those adorable sagas that have become a staple of British comedies. Playing Flitcroft as a sort of Forrest Gump-like simpleton who selflessly postponed his dreams for the sake of his family, Mark Rylance becomes cuddly but turns patronizing while director Craig Roberts overstates the weird factor by equating obsession. sudden shift from Flitcroft Golf to some sort of clumsy religious awakening. Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans co-star.

Paris 13th is on selective release and on demand at Curzon Home Cinema from March 18; Deep Water streams on Prime Video from March 18; X, Hive and The Phantom of the Open hit theaters March 18.

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