Movie Reviews: Beast | Official competition | His path

Idris Elba in Beast

Official Competition (15) ***

After dubbing Shere Khan in The Jungle Book and humiliating himself in Cats, Idris Elba continues his feline cinematic journey with The beast, an entertaining, gnarly lion-vs-human B-movie about a widowed doctor (Elba) who fights to protect his teenage daughters when a safari in his late wife’s South African homeland goes awry. Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (Everest) follows the old pattern of Jaws in claiming that Beast is really a family drama rather than an animal attack movie, so we send a lot of the first act establishing the chilling relationship between Elba’s character, Dr. Nate Samuels, and her eldest daughter “Mer” (Iyana Halley), who, unlike her phone-obsessed younger sister Norah (Leah Jeffries), berates her for not being there when their mother is dying. These scenes are well acted and although the film unnecessarily includes a recurring dream sequence to signify how Nate’s failures as a husband torment her subconscious, Elba is good at playing someone forced to absorb the emotional blows of his children as he tries to hold his family together.

He’s also good at weaving his way believable into the movie’s heroic action. As Nate’s ranger and friend and host, Sharlto Copley can bluntly state the film’s theme by announcing that “a male lion protects his pride,” but when a vengeful lion begins to stalk Nate and his family after poachers have killed his family, Elba still plays the character as someone out of his element, his medical training equipping him to heal wounds, not instantly figuring out how best to deal with the four-legged hunter lurking nearby. The first flurry of sustained big cat action is the best, with Kormakur tightening up the repeated attacks by locking its protagonists in a broken down jeep with no radio reception and limiting the film’s perspective to what they can see from inside the truck and, finally, from below. As the plot progresses, the tension isn’t always kept so effectively, but it’s quite deftly achieved and even though we’re not in Roar territory (Tippi Hedren’s notoriously dangerous 1981 film made with real lions), Elba’s CGI co-star makes for a formidable adversary.

A satire on the movie industry that’s almost as forgiving as the world it mocks, the Spanish comedy Official competition stars Penelopé Cruz as a world-renowned arthouse author hired by an aging businessman (José Luis Gómez) to make a high-profile film in a futile effort to secure his legacy. The fact that the names of the film’s financiers aren’t exactly seared into the consciousness of movie-going audiences is probably meant to be part of the joke, but it’s really a convenient way to kick off a battle of egos as the project rehearses. start. .

The film eschews the usual movie-about-movie backdrop, instead becoming a behind-the-scenes bedroom piece as Cruz’s frizzy-haired Lola Cuevas takes over one of her benefactor’s sprawling conference centers to give him two lead roles – one played by an internationally acclaimed movie star. by Antonio Banderas, the other renowned actor, played by Argentinian actor Oscar Martínez — at their own pace. Escalating one-upmanship ensues as actors rub each other the wrong way and Lola’s manipulative head games further heighten tensions as she attempts to break her actors with her own cruel tricks to uncover the truth of a scene. The gags and targets are too obvious to generate great laughs, but the darker turns the film takes, as well as the changing registers of the performances (what starts off as farce veers more towards tragedy) redeem it somewhat.

Official competition

A sex positive spin on a worn story, French drama His path centers on a single mother called Marie (Call My Agent’s Laure Calamy) who supports herself and her teenage son Adrien (Nissim Renard) by working as a prostitute. At the start of the film, Adrien has been expelled from school and faces a bleak future. Determined to get him into a private hotel school to give him a chance to follow his true passion, Marie interviews him, but then has to pay the tuition, a seemingly impossible feat on the income she earns. ‘she. regular customers. With her family unwilling to help, a bank loan out of the question and an ungrateful son on top of that, Marie – who doesn’t hide what she’s doing – decides to put herself in ever more dangerous situations by working for a sex club earn more money faster.

First feature director Cécile Ducrocq has a good idea of ​​how to render the world. Marie is increasingly forced to work in a realistic and exploitative environment without passing judgment on herself or her colleagues. Even when we see Marie at work (and the film does not dwell on the realities of work), she is not objectified by the camera but by the anonymous men who prowl in the darkest corners of clubs or in parked cars and vans The red light district of Strasbourg. Her plight is underscored by the sparing use of editing to give us a sense of the repetitive task her work entails and Calamy’s ability to portray Marie with dignified challenge also sees her through her more melodramatic turns, all the more that his character’s desperation forces him to betray his own principles.

Beast is on general release starting August 26; The official competition and Her Way are in selected version and available to stream on Curzon Home Cinema from August 26th

Her Way PIC: Blue Finch Movie Release

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