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This is my place for talking about movies, old and new.  Here I will post short reviews and, perhaps, more general stuff about the cinema.

Your comments are most welcome.  I’d like to keep this as a place for civilized and courteous discourse – so if anything that I or someone else writes upsets you, please count to ten (or higher, if your irritation requires it) before deciding to post something impolite.

Thank you. Now, please switch off your mobile phones and enjoy the movie.

The Guardians (2017)
Les Gardiennes

Directed by Xavier Beauvois

5 stars

France, 1915. Hortense (Nathalie Baye), elderly matriarch of a farming family, struggles to keep her farm going while the men are away at the front. Her two sons Constant (Nicolas Giraud) and Georges (Cyril Descours) and her daughter’s husband Clovis (Olivier Rabourdin) help with the farm work during their infrequent leave, but the farm is desperately short-handed. Hortense hires an orphaned young woman, Francine (Iris Bry), to help with both house- and field-work during the 1916 harvest. Francine works hard and is kept on after the harvest.

During his leave, Georges meets and falls in love with Francine, inciting the jealousy of family friend Marguerite (Mathilde Viseux). Then comes the news that Constant has been killed. Read more

Five Fingers for Marseilles (2017)

Directed by Michael Matthews

5 stars

In the bleakly beautiful Eastern Cape, in the dying days of the apartheid regime in South Africa, five boys grow, play and live a marginalised existence in the tiny township of Railway, built in the hills above the fading whites-only town of Marseilles. Calling themselves the Five Fingers (gentle storyteller Pastor; chubby Pockets; Luyanda, nicknamed Cockroach; the band’s leader, Zulu; and his fierce younger brother Tau, the Lion) they dream of an end to their oppression, eager to varying degrees for the moment where they can take direct action.

When a shakedown of the township’s population by corrupt cops gets out of hand, that moment comes all to soon. Tau shoots dead two policeman, and flees from his home. Read more

L’amant double (2017)

Directed by François Ozon

3 stars

Beautiful unemployed model Chloé (Marine Vacth), suffering from chronic stomach pains with no apparent physical basis, consults psychiatrist Paul Meyer (Jérémie Renier). Despite his overwhelmingly low-key approach (he barely speaks) she is soon feeling better, he has fallen in love with her (in an equally low-key way) and they have moved in together under the watchful eye of her cat Milo.

A series of chances leads Chloé to discover Paul has an identical twin brother, also a psychiatrist, though one with a much more hands-on approach. Soon she is involved with both brothers. Read more

Tiger Girl (2017)

Directed by Jakob Lass

2 stars

Klutzy, wouldn’t-say-boo-to-a-goose Maggie Fischer (Maria Dragus) flunks out of the German police academy, and starts training as a security guard. After a drunken date threatens to go seriously wrong, Maggie is rescued by feisty, confident Tiger Girl (Ella Rumpf) who quickly becomes Maggie’s radical guardian angel.

Dubbing her protegé “Vanilla the Killer”, Tiger Girl begins to educate Maggie in the ways of the street. Read more

Ghost Stories (2017)

Directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman

3 stars

Professional paranormal debunker “Professor” Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman), turned off religion and superstition as a child, is given a challenge to investigate three inexplicable cases. Goodman accepts and soon the slightly seedy professor is off visiting some monumentally seedy locations and their disturbed, disturbing inhabitants. Read more

Racer and the Jailbird (2017)
Le Fidèle

Directed by Michaël R. Roskam

4 stars

First seen in an introductory sequence as a child being betrayed to the cops by his brutish, dog-wielding dad, Gino/Gigi (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a handsome charmer with puppy-dog eyes, which is ironic since he’s terrified of dogs. Introduced to the gorgeous Bénédicte/Bibi (Adèle Exarchopoulos) he asks her out, and she agrees. She’s a semi-professional racing driver, and he claims to be in the car import-export business. Nevertheless on their first date, playing the “Tell me your greatest secret” game, he claims to be a bank-robber.

Unfortunately for both of them, this turns out to be true. Read more

The Summit (2017)
La Cordillera

Directed by Santiago Mitre

2 stars

Argentinian President Hernán Blanco (Ricardo Darín) heads to Chile for a summit that aims to establish a Latin American oil producers’ cartel. In a mountain-top hotel, the South American presidents meet, negotiate and conspire. Whose strategy will prevail: feisty, combative Mexico? Brazil – the big beast in the room? Or will it be the unseen, uninvited USA? Read more

Mother! (2017)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

3 stars

Middle-aged, unnamed poet (Javier Bardem) and his equally nameless, half-his-age wife (Jennifer Lawrence) inhabit a huge rural home that’s just the wrong side of creepy. He struggles ineffectually with writer’s block while she puts all her efforts into fixing-up the house where – it is more than hinted – his previous family was wiped out in a property-gutting conflagration. Read more