Alexandra Stewart

Alexandra Stewart

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The Hidden Face [La Cara Oculta] Review


Excellent

With a relatively simple idea, this Colombian thriller builds almost unbearable levels of Hitchcockian suspense as a group of flawed people find themselves punished horribly for their mistakes. And filmmaker Baiz takes such a sleek, stylish approach that he draws us into the odyssey from each perspective, making it more harrowing by the minute.

It's set in the capital Bogota, where Adrian (Gutierrez) has relocated from Spain to conduct the orchestra. But he's struggling with the fact that his girlfriend Belen (Lago) has simply disappeared, and as he wallows in his loneliness he falls for barmaid Fabiana (Garcia). When she visits to his country home, she feels something isn't quite right. And sure enough, we cut back to months earlier, when Belen became annoyed by Adrian's constant flirting and plotted with the landlady (Stewart) to spy on him from a secret room in the house. But her plan didn't go as intended, and now things are going to get a whole lot worse.

The film is a bundle of hints and suggestions that work together to create a marvellously oppressive atmosphere. There's a snooping detective and a seductive violinist lurking around the edges, and the landlady has a Nazi past to make things even more intriguing. Meanwhile, Baiz packs the movie with tricky camera work, sudden jolts of thunder and darkness, a cleverly florid musical score, and even a pet dog that seems to understand things the characters don't. All of this works together to obscure the fact that the story itself is rather superficial.

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Under The Cherry Moon Review


Grim
Prince followed up his cult classic Purple Rain by hopping back in front of the camera -- and behind it -- in the oddball disasterpiece Under the Cherry Moon.

For this opus, another music-filled epic writ small, Prince plays bored bachelor Christopher Tracy, who plys the French Riviera for divorcees and socialites with the help of a friend named Tricky (Jerome "The Time" Benton, who appeared in exactly three movies -- all of them starring Prince). The bulk of the story concerns his persual of Mary -- and Kristin Scott Thomas's appearance as her in this, her first motion picture, makes the movie about as noteworthy as it's going to get.

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Day For Night Review


Excellent
If you know what the phrase "day for night" means, then you've probably already seen Truffaut's self-confessed love affair with the cinema.

Day For Night is a simple tale populated by a complex cast of characters -- all actors and crew members working on a film being shot on the French Riviera. The film starts on the first day of shooting, ends on the last. Meanwhile, all manner of problems -- some funny, some serious -- plague the shoot, along with endless romantic entanglements.

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Under The Sand Review


Excellent
François Ozon has been busy the last couple of years dickering around with the crude sensationalism of Sitcom and Criminal Lovers, films that resemble biting the heads off chickens. This talented young auteur offers a welcome change of pace from this recent spate of puerile shock-value thrillers with the restrained, quietly haunting character study, Under the Sand. Ozon's latest feature returns to the quietly haunting rigor of his first international success, See the Sea: disturbing, minimalist, perceptive.

Much of the tension in Ozon's best work remains unspoken, or deliberately unexplained. In that spirit, he concocts a delicious mystery in the extended opening sequence as middle aged professor Marie Drillon (Charlotte Rampling, superb as ever) enjoys an annual summer vacation to the south of France with her husband of 25 years, Jean (giant teddy bear Bruno Cremer). They seem a happy couple, comfortable in their silences as they go about the routines of putting their chateau in order, cooking meals, sunbathing on the beach. Jean goes for a swim one day, but to Marie's shock, he never comes back.

Continue reading: Under The Sand Review

Under The Sand Review


OK

Charlotte Rampling puts a dignified face on denial in "Under the Sand," a cinematic meditation on the multitude of emotions that come with the devastating loss of a loved one.

She plays Marie, a 50-something, upper middle-class woman whose comfortable life of familiar rhythms is thrown out of balance when her husband disappears while she's napping at the beach during their regular summer vacation.

Not entirely willing to presume he's drown, and somewhat tormented by the lack of closure, Marie returns to teaching her English Lit class at a Paris university and goes about her life imagining her husband is still alive. At dinner parties she speaks of him as if he stayed at home with a cold that night, which rattles her friends who don't know quite how to respond. When she goes home, she imagines him still there and conjures up daydreams of continued normalcy. When she's making breakfast she pours him coffee. When she's shopping she buys him ties.

Continue reading: Under The Sand Review

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