By Roger Costa
FRENCH EXIT ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Michelle Pfeiffer is ravishing as a New York socialite who moves to Paris along with her son and cat after bankruptcy. Sensual, hypnotic and cynically cruel, Pfeiffer devours the role, which fits like a glove for her, giving her the opportunity to exercise her well-known feline-like skills punctuated by sharply wise dialogue and luminous facial expressions.
She deservedly scored a Golden Globe nod for Best Actress Comedy/Musical, which may lead her for an Oscar nomination- her performance has been praised by many as the “Oscar race kickoff” since the film’s debut at last year’s virtual New York Film Festival.
Filled with sensationally funny observations on behavior and communication, the film is a delightful absurdist romantic comedy with a dash of a ghost story. As she explores the city next to her son (played by Lucas Hedges), the film gathers a clan of eccentric folks, creating emotional and financial troubles around her new life: a gypsy fortune teller who gets involved with her son; his girlfriend who comes along to make peace and brings an unwanted guest; a lonely and manipulative widow; her heartbroken friend and owner of the Parisian apartment; a couple of homeless men who play essential key roles, and of course, the cat who is a constant presence and an admirably effective character (especially when it takes a “siesta” during the cruise trip).
After directing indie favorites such as “Momma’s Man”, “Terri” and “The Lovers”, director Azazel Jacobs steps on a higher level in his career crafting an elegant satire on capitalism and compassion with family standards and social relationships as a backdrop. Jacobs scores his most ambitious and glamorous project yet, one that shows he is ready to fly higher in the competitive Hollywood universe.
(Sony Pictures Classics. 2/12. In Theaters.)
An utterly imaginative and reflective capitalist sci-fi comedy, writer-director Noah Hutton’s 2021 Independent Spirit Award nominee for Best First Screenplay follows the troubles faced by a man as he reluctantly rejects the popularity of a new technology taking over the world and those seeking to make ends meet.
Known as “Quantum fever”, the “cabling” program gathers its participants at a remote area controlled by devices and machinery where robots and humans compete to accomplish the tough pulling-wire job. Having no other choice but to take the risky and mysteriously odd job, Ray struggles to gather money enough to help his severely ill brother.
Well-articulated and brilliantly built with suspense and an anxious sense of a never-explored situation, Hutton conceived a mind bending and powerful take on the troubles of economic despair seen through the consequences on tech abuse over humanity. A terrifying and impressive cinematic punch.
(Film Movement. 2/12. In Virtual Cinemas.)
SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT ⭐⭐⭐
Three youngsters exploring their sensuality, bodies, talents and traumas get together in this sexually-charged and efficient drama set in L.A.
An Italian actor financially sponsored by his parents running away from a scandal, a Franco-Iranian man also dealing with family traumas and an ambiguous waitress form a special friendship that leads to an intense and co-dependent threesome relationship breaking boundaries, borders and nationalities.
An acclaimed cinematographer, Svetlana Cvetko’s award-winning feature-length directorial debut is a gorgeously shot and absorbingly erotic modern romance that pulsates with energy, vigor and freshness on perfect synch with its fantastic actors.
Exploring themes of identity, cultural barriers, sexual liberations and the insecurities of Millennials with raw and convincing results, Cvetko is certainly a fearless and ahead-of-her-time promising female filmmaker.
(Level Forward’s Labz Live/Screen Forward. 2/12. In Virtual Cinemas.)