FREE FIRE: a witty and fun shoot ’em up

Brie larson in FREE FIRE

Brie Larson in FREE FIRE

The clever and fun action thriller Free Fire begins when Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson introduces both sides of an illegal gun transaction.    It’s 1978, and the hoods, played by Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and a bunch of less recognizable faces, meetup in a long-abandoned factory.  The deal, of course, goes bad, and they start shooting at each other.  They are all pinned down, and all the action occurs in a confined space.  Pretty quickly, everyone is wounded, and has to crawl, hobble, limp and hop around trying to take out the others.

The factory is a dark and gritty setting, and it’s not going to turn out well, but it’s too light-hearted to call this a neo-noir.  These are boys (and a girl) playing with guns, and everybody is having a lot of fun.  Indeed, Free Fall has the all-in-good-fun tone of The Dirty Dozen and reminds us of a Quentin Tarantino film with much crisper dialogue and less gore.  Two of characters come to especially gruesome ends, but this is not a splatter-a-thon.  And here’s a cinematic First – a tickle attack in the midst of a gunfight.

In another Taratinoesque touch, classic rock, especially Creedence Clearwater Revival, is put to great use on the soundtrack.  But the insertion of a John Denver album into a cassette tape player is a hilarious high point.

Larson leads a set of appealing performances.  Armie Hammer is especially memorable as a particularly suave and smug gun merchant (and wears the same stylish beard sported by The Movie Gourmet in 1978).

Written by director Ben Wheatley and his writing partner Amy Jump, Free Fire is pure Wheatley.  Jump adapted his successful 2016 sci-fi High-Rise from  the J.G. Ballard novel

Leaving the theater, The Wife asked me “Why did I enjoy that movie so much?”, and I replied “Because it didn’t try to be more than it was.”  It tries to be a very witty shoot ’em up, and, as such, it’s very entertaining.

Armie Hammer in FREE FIRE

Armie Hammer in FREE FIRE

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Movies to See Right Now

Robert Pattinson and Charlie Hunnam in THE LOST CITY OF Z photo courtesy of SFFILM

Robert Pattinson and Charlie Hunnam in THE LOST CITY OF Z
photo courtesy of SFFILM

My top recommendation is The Lost City of Z, which opens in the Bay Area today.

Also in theaters this week:

  • Their Finest is an appealing, middling period drama set during the London Blitz.
  • I liked the gloriously pulpy revenge thriller The Assignment with Michelle Rodriguez, the toughest of the Tough Chicks, playing both the Before and After roles in a hostile gender re-assignment surgery. The Assignment is out, but in few theaters. It’s available now to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
  • Kristen Stewart is excellent in Personal Shopper, a murky mess of a movie; don’t bother.
  • I found the predictable Armenian Genocide drama The Promise to be a colossal waste of Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale.
  • Song to Song is yet another visually brilliant storytelling failure from auteur Terence Malick.
  • Also avoid the horror film The Blackcoat’s Daughter, which is out on video and, UNBELIEVABLY, getting some favorable buzz.

My DVD/Stream of the Week is the absorbing French drama Augustine, about obsession, passion and the birth of a science. I just saw The Stopover at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and the feral fierceness and simmering intensity of its star Soko reminded me of her earlier work in Augustine. It’s available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

On April 22, Turner Classic Movies airs The Enemy Below (1957), a cleverly plotted and well-acted WW II submarine story, ably directed by Dick Powell. Robert Mitchum is the new captain of a sub-chaser, and Curd Jürgens commands a German sub. Because the Jürgens character has no sympathy for the Nazi regime, which makes him relatable for the audience; in real life, the Bavarian-born Jürgens was imprisoned by the Nazis for his political views and became an Austrian citizen after being liberated. The Enemy Below is a brilliant game of lethal cat-and-mouse between the two skippers.

The Germans are trapped by their mission, which requires them to keep on a certain bearing. The US commander recognizes this and is able to keep catching up to them on this route. Mitchum explains his tactics to his crew, gets the crews trust and helps us follow the chess game. As nerves crack on the sub below, Jurgens takes unusual tactics to maintain morale. Mutual respect is manifested at end, with stirring loyalty demonstrated by the men to their captains.

There’s a lot here that you don’t see in other submarine warfare movies, including a rare ramming collision and aerial views of the depth charge pattern. There’s also a great special effect shot showing sailors on the deck dropping their fishing line down to the U-boat resting on the sea bottom directly below. The author of the source novel was himself a veteran of anti-sub warfare.

Robert Mitchum in THE ENEMY BELOW

Robert Mitchum in THE ENEMY BELOW

Curd Jurgens in THE ENEMY BELOW

Curd Jurgens in THE ENEMY BELOW

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THE LOST CITY OF Z: the historical adventure epic revived

Charlie Hunnam in THE LOST CITY OF Z photo courtesy of SFFILM

Charlie Hunnam in THE LOST CITY OF Z
photo courtesy of SFFILM

In auteur James Gray’s sweeping turn of the 20th Century epic The Lost City of Z, a stiff-upper-lip type British military officer becomes the first European to probe into the deepest heart of unmapped Amazonia. Finding his way through the lush jungles, braving encounters with sometimes cannibalistic indigenous warriors, he becomes obsessed with finding the lost city of an ancient civilization. I know this sounds like Indiana Jones, but it’s based on the real life of Percy Fawcett as chronicled in the recent book Lost City of Z by David Grann.

The Lost City of Z opens tomorrow in Bay Area theaters. I saw The Lost City of Z at the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILMFestival) at a screening with director James Gray. I’ll be sharing some snippets from Gray’s Q & A on Sunday.

The Lost City of Z begins with an Edwardian stag hunt through the verdant Irish countryside, complete with horses spilling riders. This scene is gorgeous, but its point is to introduce the young British military officer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) as a man of unusual resourcefulness, talent and, above all, drive. Despite his abilities, he has been chaffing at the unattractive assignments that have precluded his career advancement. In the snobby Edwardian military, he has been in disfavor because his dissolute father had stained the family name. One of Fawcett’s commanders says, “He’s been rather unfortunate in his choice of ancestors”.

That yearning to earn the recognition that he believes he merits – and to attain the accomplishments of a Great Man – is the core of this character-driven movie. Fawcett resists yet another assignment away from the career-making action, a mapping expedition designed to have a minor diplomatic payoff. But it takes him on a spectacular Amazon exploration that brings him celebrity – and backing for more high-profile expeditions. Fawcett was surfing the zeitgeist in the age of his contemporaries Roald Amundsen (South Pole), Robert Peary (North Pole) and Howard Carter (King Tut).

In that first expedition, Fawcett becomes convinced that he can find the magnificent city of a lost civilization deep in the Amazon, a city he calls Z (which is pronounced as the British “Zed”). The Lost City of Z takes us through two more Amazonian expeditions, sandwiched around Fawcett’s WW I service in the hellish Battle of the Somme.
That final expedition ends mysteriously – and not well.

No one knows for sure what happened to Fawcett. In The Lost City of Z, Gray leads us toward the most likely conclusion, the one embraced by Grann’s book. If you’re interested in the decades of speculation about Fawcett’s fate, there’s a good outline on Percy Fawcett’s Wikipedia page.

Fawcett comes with his own Victorian upper class prejudices, but he has the capacity to set those aside for a post-Darwin open-mindedness. Gray made it a point that the indigenous peoples in the movie are independent of Fawcett; Gray shows them living their lives in a world that Fawcett has found, not just advancing the plot points in Fawcett’s quest. Four real tribes – and their cultures – are shown in the film.

As Percy Fawcett, with his oft-manic obsession and fame-seeking that color his scientific curiosity and his old-fashioned Dudley Do-Right values, Charlie Hunnam gives a tremendous, perhaps carer breakthrough, performance. He’s been a promising actor in Sons of Anarchy and the overlooked thriller Deadfall) (and such a good actor that I never dreamed that he’s really British).  Hunnam will next star as the title character in the King Arthur movie franchise.

Robert Pattinson is unexpectedly perfect as Fawcett’s travel buddy Henry Costin. With his Twilight dreaminess hidden behind a Smith Brothers beard, Pattinson projects a lean manliness. It’s probably his best performance.

Sienna Miller shines as Fawcett’s proto-feminist wife Nina. I first noticed Miller (and Daniel Craig) in the underrated neo-noir thriller 2004 Layer Cake. Now Miller is still only 35 years old and has delivered other fine recent performances in Foxcatcher, American Sniper and (in an especially delicious role) High-Rise.

Director James Gray (The Yard, Two Lovers, The Immigrant) is a favorite of cinephiles and of other filmmakers, but regular audiences don’t turn out for his movies. That may change with The Lost City of Z, a remarkably beautiful film that Gray shot, bucking the trend to digital, in 35 mm. The jungle scenes were filmed in a national park in Columbia. The cinemeatographer is the Oscar-nominated Darius Khondji. Khondji shot The Immigrant for Gray and has been the DP of choice for David Fincher (Se7en) Alan Parker (Evita), Michael Haneke (Amour), and Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris). Along with the stag hunt and the voyages up and down the jungle rivers, there is also a breathtakingly beautiful ballroom scene and a gaspingly surreal nighttime discovery of a rubber plantation’s opera house deep in the jungle.

There have been other Lost Expedition movies, most famously Werner Herzog’s Aquirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo. The Lost City of Z shares an obsession, a quest and a mysterious tragic end with those films, but it stands apart with its exploration of the motivation of a real life character and the authenticity of Gray’s depiction of the indigenous people.

Movie studios used to make an entire genre of very fun movies from Gunga Din and The Four Feathers through Lawrence of Arabia and Zulu that featured white Europeans getting their thrills in exotic third world playgrounds. We often cringe at the racist premises and the treatment of “the natives” those movies today. Since the 1960s, the best examples of the genre, like Raiders of the Lost Ark, have had an ironic tinge. With The Lost City of Z, James Gray loses both the racism and the irony, and brings us brings a straight-ahead exploration tale.

The Lost City of Z revives the genre of the historical adventure epic, with all the spectacle of a swashbuckler, while braiding in modern sensitivities and a psychological portrait. This is a beautiful and thoughtful film.

[And here are some completely random tidbits. There’s a cameo by Spaghetti Western star Franco Nero. The closing credits recognize the “animal weath coordinator” and the “data wrangler”.]

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THE PROMISE: predictable and somnolent

Oscar Isaac in THE PROMISE

Oscar Isaac in THE PROMISE

In a predictable trudge through the Armenian Genocide, The Promise delivers nothing that we haven’t seen before. Oscar Isaac plays an impoverished Armenian from the Anatolian outback who dreams of becoming a doctor. To afford medical school in Constantinople, he uses the dowry available after his betrothal to a sweet and prominently-schnozzed local girl. For his studies, he moves alone to the big city, where he meets a cosmopolitan Armenian beauty (Charlotte Le Bon), who has been living in Paris with her boyfriend, an iconoclastic American journalist (Christian Bale). Just as sparks fly between Isaac and Le Bon, World War I erupts and the Turks persecute and then massacre Armenians, causing the two to flee separately for their lives. Isaac’s medical student finds himself hiding in his home village, married to his fiance. Le Bon’s sophisticate is on the run with Bale’s journalist as he covers the developments. Will the Armenian lovers meet again in Eastern Turkey, and will he stay true to his marital vows?

The talents of Isaac and Bale are wasted in this movie. Isaac’s character is so top-to-bottom decent and so buffeted by developments that are not his fault, there just isn’t much texture to portray. Similarly, Bale’s reporter, while purportedly an international man of mystery, is just a Jeff Bridgesey teddy bear of a guy at his core.

The Promise is not as bad as the epically bad epic The Ottoman Lieutenant, and has much higher superior production values and a moderately better screenplay. Both movies share the beginning of World War I and the Armenian Genocide, along with an American protestant mission in southeastern Turkey. As in The Ottoman Lieutenant, there’s an unintentional audience laugh – when Isaac’s mother intones “I told them you were dead”.

Keep walking.

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DVD/Stream of the Week: AUGUSTINE: obsession, passion and the birth of a science

The absorbing French drama Augustine is based on the real work of 19th century medical research pioneer Jean-Martin Charcot, known as the father of neurology. A young kitchen maid begins suffering wild seizures and is brought to Charcot’s research hospital. He ascertains the triggers for the seizures, and begins to close in on cure. Needing funding for his research, he triggers her seizures before groups of his peers; he is showing off his research, but it’s clear that his affluent male audience is titillated by the comely girl’s orgasmic thrashes.

She is drawn to this man whose kindness to her belies their class difference and whose brilliance is the key to her recovery. The good doctor intends to cure her – but not until she has performed for his potential funders. She is unexpectedly cured just before Charcot’s most important demonstration, and she gets to decide whether to continue her exploitation. In the stunning conclusion, she gets the upper hand and her simmering feelings erupt.

The fine French actor Vincent Lindon (Mademoiselle Chambon) excels at playing very contained and reserved characters, and here he nails Charcot’s clash of decency and professional ambition.

The French pop singer Soko is captivating as his patient. Last week, I noted the feral fierceness and simmering intensity of Soko is The Stopover, a film that I just saw at the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILMFestival). That’s why I was moved to make Augustine this week’s video pick.

It’s an auspicious first feature film for writer-director Alice Winocour. She has constructed a story that about two sympathetic characters whose interests converge, then diverge and then… Since Augustine, Winocur has co-written the wonderful Mustang and directed Disorder.

Augustine is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

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Movies to See Right Now

Ariane Labed and Soko in THE STOPOVER photo courtesy of SFFILM

THE STOPOVER at the San Francisco International Film Festival
photo courtesy of SFFILM

The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILMFestival) is underway, and links to my coverage are on my SFFILMFestival page. You can see two of my recommendations, both women-centered films, the topical French drama The Stopover and the Irish self-discovery dramedy A Date with Mad Mary, this weekend at SFFILMFestival.

In theaters this week:

  • I liked the gloriously pulpy revenge thriller The Assignment with Michelle Rodriguez, the toughest of the Tough Chicks, playing both the Before and After roles in a hostile gender re-assignment surgery. The Assignment is out, but in few theaters. It’s available now to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
  • Bev Powley is very good in the agreeable comedy Carrie Pilby. It’s also available to stream from Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
  • Kristen Stewart is excellent in Personal Shopper, a murky mess of a movie; don’t bother.
  • Song to Song is yet another visually brilliant storytelling failure from auteur Terence Malick.
  • Also avoid the horror film The Blackcoat’s Daughter, which is out on video and, UNBELIEVABLY, getting some favorable buzz.

This week’s video pick comes from the program of last year’s San Francisco International Film Festival. The absorbing neo-noir romance Frank & Lola opens with a couple lovemaking for the first time – and right away there’s a glimmer that he’s more invested than she is. Soon we’re spirited from Vegas to Paris and back again in a deadly web of jealousy. I saw Frank & Lola in May 2016 at the San Francisco International Film Festival. I liked it more than most and put it on my Best Movies of 2016. After a brief and tiny theatrical release in December which did not reach the Bay Area, Frank & Lola is now available to stream on Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

Easter always triggers television networks to pull out their Biblical epics.  If you’re going to watch just one Sword-and-Sandal classic, I recommend going full tilt with Barrabas, broadcast by Turner Classic Movies on April 16.   This 1961 cornball stars Anthony Quinn as the Zelig-like title character.  The story begins with the thief Barabbas avoiding crucifixion when Pontius Pilate swaps him out for Jesus (this part is actually in the Bible). Because the Crucifixion isn’t enough action for a two hour 17 minute movie, Barabbas is soon sent off as a slave to the salt mines, where he is rescued by a miraculously timely earthquake.  He then joins the Roman gladiators, complete with a javelin-firing squad, gets lost in the catacombs and emerges to the Burning of Rome.  He has encounters with the Emperor Nero and the Apostle Peter before he converts to Christianity – just in time for the mass crucifixion.  Watch for an uncredited Sharon Tate as a patrician in the arena.

Anthony Quinn in BARABBAS

Anthony Quinn in BARABBAS

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SONG TO SONG: empty eye candy

SONG TO SONG

Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling in SONG TO SONG

After sitting through what seemed like three hours of the 129-minute movie Song to Song, I have identified why I am done with auteur Terence Malick – Malick has essentially become a visual-only filmmaker.   But I think of cinema as a storytelling medium, and Malick, with all his eye candy, just can’t make me care about his story.

Ryan Gosling plays an Austin songwriter who is befriended and exploited by a twisted and extremely rich music kingpin (Michael Fassbender).  Rooney Mara’s character (purportedly another songwriter) falls for them both, and also jumps in bed with Bond Girl Bérénice Malohe’s mystery woman.  Natalie Portman plays a waitress who tragically marries Fassbender’s monstrous mogul.  An out-of-towner (Cate Blanchett) breezes in to have a fling with Gosling’s songwriter. Besides Mara and Portman, Fassbender also works his way through a series of groupies and call girls (including the most pockmarked hooker in Texas).

The movie is filled with the goofy, playful things that people do when they are flirting and seducing and in the early flush of love.  We also see (TMI?) that Malick is personally fascinated by a slow, teasing prelude to lovemaking, as ritualized as are the early stages of a bullfight, during which women wrap themselves in the curtains and get their stomachs caressed.  I like watching these usually compelling actors, but I just don’t care about these characters.    Unfortunately for her performance, Mara never seems the least bit musical or artistically inclined.

The only genuine moments in Song to Song come in scenes with the main characters’ concerned parents and two scenes with the starkly and heartbreakingly authentic singer-songwriter Pattie Smith.

There is, however,  a lot of visual interest to be found in Texas and Mexico, and Malick makes the most of it:  riverfront mansions, high-rise penthouses, beaches, cantinas, Hill Country vistas and backstage at the ACL festival.  As usual, Malick is aided by the collaboration of the master cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.  No contemporary cinematographer can match Lubezki’s stunning body of work.  His work with Malick includes the wondrous The New Land.  And the three-time Oscar winner Lubezki also shot Alejandro Iñárritu’s Babel, Birdman and The Revenant and Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men and Gravity.  Lubezki’s work here is remarkable, but I find myself infuriated at wastefulness of a Malick setup that results in 2 seconds in the film, however visually glorious.

There are also what have become unfortunate Malick signatures.  Choral music by Handel always signals pretentiousness.  And Song to Song contains a completely random montage of horror scenes from silent movies – it had me waiting for the reappearance of the dinosaurs from The Tree of Life.

And here’s a scene that I found paternalistic and offensive – I guarantee you that, if you get wasted and raucous in a Mexican cantina, the Mexicans will not embrace you as those really cool gringos that they have been waiting these many years to roughhouse with.

Did not like Song to Song.

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SFFILM: YOURSELF AND YOURS

YOURSELF AND YOURS

YOURSELF AND YOURS
photo courtesy of SFFILM

The absurdism of Luis Buñuel meets the social awkwardness of Seinfeld in Hong Sang-soo’s Koran comedy Yourself and Yours. I just saw Yourself and Yours (Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot) at the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILMFestival).  In an Only-At-SFFILM moment, I (a Hong Sang-soo newbie) was surrounded in the audience by devoted Hong Sang-soo fans.

In Yourself and Yours, Minjung (Lee You-young) dumps her boyfriend (Kim Joo-hyuck) after he objects to her heavy drinking (“I’ve stopped drinking – now I only stop after five rounds”). Then another man thinks that he meets Minjung, but she claims that she is Minjung’s identical twin. We’re not so sure about that. And then she meets ANOTHER man, and her identity remains in question. Her original boyfriend is comically bereft, and he’s on the lookout for her, too.

One character says “You men are all pathetic”, and Minjung proves that point at every opportunity. In a deliberate homage to Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire, Lee You-young plays the role of Minjung and her multiple doppelgängers (unless they are all really Minjung herself).  There are plenty of LOL moments as Yourself and Yours winds its way full circle to a satisfyingly sly finale.

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SFFILM: A DATE FOR MAD MARY

Seána Kerslake (right) in A DATE FOR MAD MARY photo courtesy of SFFILM

Charleigh Bailey and Seána Kerslake in A DATE FOR MAD MARY
photo courtesy of SFFILM

The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILMFestival) features the Irish dramedy A Date for Mad Mary.  Mary (Seána Kerslake) has just been released from incarceration and faces this challenge: she’s going to be the Maid of Honor at her childhood BFF’s wedding, and she needs a date for the nuptials. This apparently isn’t the first time that Mary’s been locked up for brawling because she quickly resorts to pounding other humans. This is a character flaw which is getting in the way of her, among other normal pursuits, finding a feller.

With this set-up, the audience is expecting a broad Dating-Gone-Wrong comedy, and there is a bit of that, but A Date for Mad Mary drills down to explore the character of Mary, somehow still frozen in her teenage pose. Mary has a major chip on her shoulder and escalates every human contact into an outburst of hostility. She just hasn’t matured into a woman who can navigate any social situation. The annoyingly controlling bride-to-be Char (Charleigh Bailey) has grown out of the teen Tough Girl pose, and has moved on the having a life with a job and a fiance. Mary, on the other hand, can’t keep a job or a guy or anything that will make her satisfied, self-proud or happy. Eventually, Mary meets a new friend Jess (Tara Lee) and wall-bangs her way down the corridor of self-discovery.

xxx and Seána Kerslake in A DATE FOR MAD MARY photo courtesy of SFFILM

Tara Lee and Seána Kerslake in A DATE FOR MAD MARY
photo courtesy of SFFILM

Seána Kerslake’s excellent performance is central to the success of the film, playing a character who is confused by her own lack of happiness. Unforgettably, Kerslake’s Mary kisses another character and is overwhelmed by an unexpected, giddy thrill – it’s a special moment. A Date for Mad Mary is the fifth feature since 2012 for up-and-comer Kerslake, who is also starring in an Irish television series.

A Date for Mad Mary is the first feature for director and co-writer Darren Thornton. A Date for Mad Mary will be screened again this weekend at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

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SFFILM: THE STOPOVER

Ariane Labed and Soko in THE STOPOVER photo courtesy of SFFILM

Ariane Labed and Soko in THE STOPOVER
photo courtesy of SFFILM

The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILMFestival) presents the topical French drama The Stopover, which explores the after-effects of combat in contemporary warfare.  We also get a female lens on the acceptance of women in combat roles and on sexual assault in the military from the co-writer and co-directors, the sisters Delphine and Muriel Coulin.

The Stopover’s title refers to a French combat unit’s three-day stay in a luxurious Cypriot seaside resort.  The unit, heading back to France after a tour in Afghanistan, is supposed to decompress at the resort.  They are required to engage in group therapy, enhanced by virtual reality goggles.  As with any group of gung-ho and mostly macho twenty-somethings, talk therapy is not their thing.  But they sure need decompression, because their service included a terrifying engagement in which they lost three comrades.

This combat unit includes women, and The Stopover focuses on Aurore (Ariane Labed and Marine (Soko).  The strong and purposeful Aurore has physically recovered from an emotionally (and literally) scarring experience in Afghanistan.  The more impulsive Marine, on the other hand, is not a deep thinker, but has a serious chip on her shoulder.

Everyone in the unit wound very, very tightly. Some are fighting to keep psychotic outbursts from bubbling over.  Plopping these guys amidst tourists and locals in such an absurdly and artificially tranquil setting creates a powder keg.  From start to finish in The Stopover, we’re waiting for any and every character to snap or erupt.

Ariane Labed in THE STOPOVER photo courtesy of SFFILM

Ariane Labed in THE STOPOVER
photo courtesy of SFFILM

Labed is excellent as Ariane feels need to suppress her PTSD, to mask it with rowdy fun and, finally, to confront it.  Labed won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for a completely different kind of movie in 2010, the absurdly goofy Attenberg, which I also watched at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

I just can’t take my eyes of Soko, who is a French pop music star. Here, as Marine, she has a feral fierceness. Soko is also a force of nature in the excellent period drama Augustine. She stars in another movie out this year that I’m looking forward to seeing, The Dancer.  She brings a simmering intensity to the screen, in contrast to her offbeat, ironic pop music.
The rest of the cast is excellent, too, particularly Karim Leklou as a sergeant with an unresolved issue or two.

The Stopover plays the SFFILMFestival tonight and again this weekend.  It’s also programmed in Film Society of Lincoln Center’s sometimes traveling Rendez-vous with French Cinema series.  It’s an engrossing and powerful film.

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