Full Review: CLIMAX (France 2018) ****

Climax Poster
Trailer

French dancers gather in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD.

Director:

Gaspar Noé

Writer:

Gaspar Noé

French auteur Gaspar Noé excited audiences with his first two films, the excellent CARNE and the sequel SEUL CONTRE TOUS which were both an hour or so long.  But Noé pushed the limits with ENTER THE VOID and IRREVERSIBLE and he continues to do so with his new film CLIMAX about a troupe of dancers on acid.

What can one do with a troupe of real dancers?  Noé proves that more than everything can be done.  His film can be divided into 5 parts – the interviews; the group dance; the mingling of the dancers; the individual dances; the sex that occurs after the acid takes effect and the climax (aftermath).   Even if all else fails, the dance choreography is so good, many done with one long take, that watching these dance segments is worth more than the ticket price.  I myself, would watch the film again just for the dance sequences.

The film begins with the dancers being interviewed by an unseen male and female interviewer.  This sequence takes about 15 minutes and the audience sees the obsession of the dancers. “Dance is everything.” “I will commit suicide if I cannot dance.”  “I would do anything to be able to dance in the troupe.”  To the last comment, Noé pursues the implications further, bringing light to the current sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, but with an intelligent difference.  The two dancers who make the identical last comment are probed further to the point that their sexual offers might be accepted.  Noé uses the males instead of the females to be accosted and the possible guilty party to be one male and one female.

The troupe’s dance number is nothing short of stunning.  Forget the dances in any other television show or dance movie.   This is the real thing – real dance from the streets, expertly choreographed by gifted dancers.

When the dancers start mingling, the audience discovers more about each individual, their sexual orientation, who each has the hots for and how one might be related to another.  This is the time the dancers take to the spiked sangria. The LSD (acid)  takes about a hour to take effect.

The film breaks out into dance again.  This time it is individual dance where each dancer is given the chance to perform solo.  Noé uses the overhead shot.  The camera displaced above and each dancer moves in a and then out of the spot, with the dance performance seen from a bird’s eye view.  It is uncommon to shoot dance numbers this way, but it is nevertheless inventive and effective.

The last two segments are not so easy to watch.  Once the dancers start to feel the effect of the drug, their emotions come loose and sex begins leading to the films climax which unfortunately is not so entertaining as the dance sequences.   Noé’s camera goes upside down with lighting going on and off so that not every scene can be deciphered clearly.

Noé never fails to shock and to push his filming limits.  CLIMAX shows Noé at one of his most effective, disturbing though not disgusting.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AuDB8pskGs

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TIFF 2018 Review: CLIMAX (France 2018) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Climax Poster
Trailer

French dancers gather in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD.

Director:

Gaspar Noé

Writer:

Gaspar Noé

Gaspar Noe (CARNE, SEUL CONTRE TOUS, ENTER THE VOID) shows what genius can be done with a troupe of dancers obsessed with their art.  The film begins with interviews of individual members followed by an incredibly executed dance in synch to the amazement of the audience. 

 Third segment has the camera following the dancers as they interact with each other, speaking about their aims, fears or just plain flirtation.  This is followed once again by dance, this time with the camera placed permanent,y overhead of the dancers as they now individually dance into the frame, showing their prowess.  The dancers now drink the sangria which is spiked with LSD.  They never find out the culprit though the suspected get violently attacked.  

They last segment leading to the film’s CLIMAX has them indulging in sex and violent acts.  The film’s dance sequences alone are more than worth the price of admission but the film delves more deeply into man’s tortured soul including the concept of death.  

CLIMAX is not a film for everyone but is nothing one has seen before for those who can take it.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi69nL_VrTE

Film Review: HOTEL ARTEMIS

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Hotel Artemis Poster
Trailer

Set in riot-torn, near-future Los Angeles, ‘Hotel Artemis’ follows the Nurse, who runs a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals.

Director:

Drew Pearce

Writer:

Drew Pearce

 

There is a segment in both the JOHN WICK action movies where Keanu Reeves who plays an assassin takes refuge in a special European Hotel.  One has to be a member of this hotel to enter, of which certain rules must absolutely be followed.  There must be no killings.  Everyone must respect each other. 

 In HOTEL ARTEMIS, Jodie Foster plays the head nurse, Jean Thomas of the hotel.  The only thing is that HOTEL ARTEMIS is not really a hotel but a  hospital run by Thomas where the secret members-only can convalesce if they are shot, wounded or need medical attention.   But when a cop is admitted all hell breaks lose and FREE FIRE occurs.  HOTEL ARTEMIS plays like a cross between FREE FIRE and the JOHN WICK hotel segments.  But the film does not work and interest wanes quickly.

The film tries hard to distinguish itself as being original.  For one, it is set in the end future of a war-torn Los Angeles.  The film begins with a rather violent bank heist, as seen from the robbers points of view.  Some are killed and some are wounded.  Two African Americans survive but one is wounded and has to be brought to the HOTEL ARTEMIS for hospital care, no questions asked.  It is there where the audience is introduced to the no-nonsense head nurse who will not let anyone through the high security gates.  She has a really nasty looking security guy, Everest (Dave Baustista), built like the mountain itself.

HOTEL ARTEMIS does to really work because the script and story have nowhere to go.  No one really cares about any of the riff-raffs that enter hospital, who survives or who dies.  The humour is off, neither black, neither camp, neither satirical and neither funny.  Action segments are well executed, lifting the film a little, though this can hardly be classified as a true action film.

This is Jodie Foster’s first film after a long absence.  She does well, though looking her age.  The cast includes other minor actors including Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Pinto and Sofia Boiutella.

HOTEL ARTEMIS lastly suffers from a slip shod ending, which is expected given that the film’s whole story never leads anywhere.  Do not book your stay at HOTEL ARTEMIS.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqfuKsoEEms

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Film Review: THE MUMMY (USA 2017)

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the mummyAn ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Director: Alex Kurtzman
Writers: David Koepp (screenplay), Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe

Review by Gilbert Seah

When THE MUMMY’s opening credits begin, the words Dark Universe appears instead of the studio name Universal on the company logo. THE MUMMY launches the studio’s Dark Universe, a shared cinematic universe of classic movie monsters.

Tom Cruise takes over the leading role from Brendan Fraser and Dwayne Johnson in this MUMMY re-boot that does not do any justice to the franchise. Cruise plays rebel soldier Nick Morton who steals ancient artifacts, while dressed like Indiana Jones. This runs him into trouble with an old Egyptian curse that the film spends a whole 15 minutes of opening time explaining.

It all starts way back when, when really bad Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Algerian actress, Sofia Boutella) murders her father and infant brother to usurp the throne. As if this is not bad enough, she consorts with some demon that can give her everlasting life. But she is caught and mummified as punishment with her body banished from Egypt. The silly plot has the audience believe that she is put in a tomb and buried underneath London, England where she is dug up when building new tunnels for London trains, thus unleasing some curse. That is THE MUMMY’s humour. If that is not enough silliness, the demon later possesses Nick Morton when Nick Morton attempts to save the day. Tom Cruise as a demon possessed character means Tom Cruise in hyper-active mode.

The tie in of ancient times to modern day activities is laughable. Morton is a soldier in Iraq where the enemy wants their cultural monuments destroyed. The other tie in is the modernization of London’s trains resulting is uncovering the tombs.
The climax of the film requires the director to show that the possessed Nick Morton resurrecting Jenny (Annabelle Wallis from THE TUDORS) instead of the evil princess. This segment is done in the most sloppy way ever.

At a production cost of $125 million, THE MUMMY is a complete mess. The story, pacing, acting (Cruise desperately trying to show he still has the chops), dialogue are all less than memorable. Director Kurtzman who has never made a blockbuster special effects movie deserves some credit for two well executed action segments. The plane crash action set-up, after Morton fires bullets in a plane causing it to crash due to cabin de-pressurization is well-executed with bodies and debris flying all around. The other scene, an underwater segment showing the undead skeletons swimming after Morton is impressive and stunning.

The final ending is totally incoherent. The script requires the Russell Crowe character to explain what is happening. The next scene has Nick Morton and partner riding their horses in the desert with a voiceover promising another sequel soon in the making. What is all this about with the horses, Morton’s possession and evil returning and some saying that it takes a monster to kill a monster?

At least four more monster movie reboots have already been planned for Universal’s Dark Universe including BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE INVISIBLE MAN, VAN HELSING and THE WOLF MAN. Judging from this horrid first entry, the fate of the films might follow the equally horrid DC’s extended universe films MAN OF STEEL, BATMAN V. SUPERMAN, SUICIDE SQUAD and the mediocre WONDER WOMAN. It looks like the mummy’s curse desperately needs to be broken.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjHgzkQM2Sg

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