The FilmWatcher Posts

Image courtesy of Kino Lorber.

*** (out of 4)

(NOTE: This review originally appeared here.)

Pop quiz: which Western nation was the last to grant suffrage to women? You might be inclined to guess the U.S. (since, after all, it took our ancestors way too long to get the 19th Amendment written up) or a socially-conservative country like Italy. But the correct answer is actually Switzerland – the supposedly progressive paradise that regularly ranks near the top of just about every quality-of-life ranking out there. Swiss women, it turns out, only gained suffrage after a 1971 referendum on the subject came out in their favor; in some cantons, moreover, they weren’t allowed to fully exercise this privilege until after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The fact that a “developed” nation took so long to undertake such a basic reform is an anomaly just begging for an explanation. And in The Divine Order, Petra Volpe tries to provide one through the fictional (but based on reality) story of Nora (Marie Leuenberger), a woman who undergoes a political and emotional awakening in the lead-up to the 1971 vote.

Reviews - New Releases

Image courtesy of TriArt Film.

** (out of 4)

Last May, the movie world got its second big surprise of the year (after this one) when Pedro Almodóvar announced the winners of the 70th Cannes Film Festival. The film taking home the Palme d’Or turned out to be neither Happy End (from Michael Haneke, the Austrian director who’s become a fixture of the event) nor BPM (the gay-rights movie that left Almodóvar bawling). Instead, the prize went to Ruben Östlund’s The Square, a film that follows an art museum curator’s (named Christian, played by Claes Bang) hapless attempts to both recover his stolen wallet and oversee marketing efforts for the titular special exhibition.

Reviews - New Releases

Image courtesy of A24.

*** ½ (out of 4)

Given how frequently the word is tossed out, it might be lazy of me to say that Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer is original. But when it comes to someone like Lanthimos, there’s simply no adjective that better captures his style. This, after all, is the director who had teenagers stabbing cats and calling salt shakers telephones in the over-parenting dramedy Dogtooth – and who recently had bachelors turning into horses and dogs in the dystopian romance The Lobster. Now, in Killing, Lanthimos brings his wacky blend of absurdism and satire to the horror genre, telling the story of a surgeon named Steven (Colin Farrell) who strikes up an eerily close relationship with the son (Barry Keoghan) of a former patient.

From here, it’d be futile to try to describe Killing’s plot in more detail; as with Dogtooth and The Lobster, you have to see it to fully appreciate its surreal nonsensicalness. What can be said, however, is that Killing undoubtedly represents a step up in Lanthimos’ already-exceptional oeuvre.

Reviews - New Releases