Movie Reviews: Spencer | Eternals | The Card Counter | Taurus

Kristen Stewart in Spencer (Picture: Neon)

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The Card Counter (15) ****

Halloween may be over, but there’s an artistically macabre quality to spencer, the daring new film from Chilean author Pablo Larraín about Princess Diana’s last Christmas in the royal family. Starring Kristen Stewart in the lead, the film isn’t macabre in its treatment of its protagonist, but Larraín (who did the equally inventive Jackie) and British screenwriter Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke), take an approach joyfully macabre of the monarchy. Riffling on The Shining with ominous aerial shots of Sandringham, the film’s setting is presented as a gilded-caged version of the Overlook Hotel, one filled with a sinister Timothy Spall as an all-seeing squire with l intent to fix Diana, and Diana’s own fracking. psyche conjuring up the ghost of Anne Boleyn in a place where “the past and the present are the same thing” and where “the future does not exist”.

Opening with a military-style operation to prepare Sandringham for the holidays, the film subtly establishes the idea that Christmas with the in-laws is going to be a battleground for Diana, with her subsequent late arrival indicating just how badly she is already in a kind of monarchical no man’s land, caught between her desire to desert and her determination to fight for her children. As such, what follows should not be seen as a dramatically realistic portrayal of the inner workings of the royal family, but an expressionist horror film in which the overscrutinized reality of Diana begins to warp around her, like the distorted landscapes of an Edvard Munch painting. Her own torment reaches a climax of desperation in a remarkable dinner scene that sees her making croutons out of a string of pearls and then throwing up her soup in a fit of bulimic defiance. The Crown is not that. Through it all, Stewart is fearless as Diana. Complimented by the eerie madness of Jonny Greenwood’s disorienting score, her performance eschews reverential mimicry in favor of a more empathetic and interpretive exploration of Diana’s internal chaos.

There’s a late moment in Oscar-winning Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, in which Frances McDormand’s Fern tries to figure out whether or not to continue her traveling lifestyle or reconnect with mainstream society. . Walking along a deserted street late at night, she approaches a cinema showing The Avengers, stops briefly to check the poster, then moves on. Modern pop culture, it seems, has nothing to offer him. It’s a beautiful subtle moment, typical of Zhao’s work. Ironically, it’s also now a depressing omen of how little the Marvel giant has to offer an Oscar-winning director like Zhao, whose new film Eternals was intended as one of the launch pads for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but is most notable for how it completely subsumes Zhao’s hitherto distinctive cinematic style.


Based on a gibberish comic by Jack Kirby about a race of interstellar superbings who have been hiding on Earth for 7,000 years to protect its citizens from a race of lupine supervillains known as the Deviants, the film leaps forward back through the centuries to expose a deeply uninteresting origin story involving a celestial god and another plan threatening civilization for global annihilation. Of the many actors, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan and Salma Hayek come across as hooverers of charisma, with only Kumail Nanjiani and Barry Keoghan bringing a sense of fun to an overly serious universe that lacks high-energy banter and big on bad CGI. rendered. stopped kicks. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Zhao wanting to try something on this scale, but as Nomadland made it clear, you don’t have to partake in mainstream culture to count.

Following the biblical fury of the first Reformed in 2017, The card counter sees Paul Schrader enjoy a remarkable revival at the end of the period with another hard-hitting exploration of the suffering of purgatory. Oscar Isaac takes the lead as William Tell, a former con artist who makes a living by visiting casinos and using his skills learned in prison to make a modest living by quietly beating the house at his own game. not entirely random with Cirk (Tye Sheridan) – a college dropout tied to his own bad apple past – offering him a chance to redeem himself, he decides to enter the high-stakes world of big-money poker tournaments. . to help Cirk. It’s a decision that risks turning William’s carefully controlled life upside down, but also brings him into the realm of La Linda by Tiffany Haddish, a poker agent he’s gradually falling in love with. Here, Schrader cleverly uses the game as a bluff to draw us into a far wilder story, which begins with a stunning shot educating us about the guilt-fueled nightmare William is trying to escape from, and continues with a subversive riff. on the disturbing revenge. the angel trope that Schrader first explored in his script for Taxi Driver.

There is a more bizarre take on the concept of the avenging angel in Taurus, the intense new film from London to Brighton from director Paul Andrew Williams. Starring Kill List’s Neil Maskell as a violent criminal seeking revenge on his equally wicked in-laws (led by a menacing David Haymen), the film begins as a forcefully realized revenge thriller, but Williams takes it in a more original and disturbing direction. with a bold wig for the final act.

All films in general release from November 5

The card counter

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