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Monday, Oct 13, 2014
Issues of gender identity and sexuality come under scrutiny in today’s reviewed films: the latest genre-hopper from François Ozon, and Ester Martin Bergsmark’s explicit teen love story.

The New Girlfriend (Une Nouvelle Amie), the new film from the ever-prolific François Ozon, opens with a truly terrific, blackly comic visual gag: apparent preparations for a wedding that turn out, after all, to be preparations for a funeral. Eros and Thanatos are, as often, major presences in Ozon’s latest genre-hopper, and that opening reveal is certainly not the last surprise that the movie springs on us. 


Alas, while a vast improvement on Ozon’s previous feature, the awfully tacky, jejune Belle du Jour rip-off Young and Beautiful (2013), The New Girlfriend doesn’t quite make good on the promise of its superb opening sequence or its generally strong first half.


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Sunday, Oct 12, 2014
Two ensemble comedy dramas at either ends of the budgetary scale: Jason Reitman’s synthetic Men Women & Children and Simon Baker’s likeable, low-budget Night Bus.

It’s a toss-up as to what’s cruder in Men, Women & Children: the “ribald” humour of the film’s first half or the icky melodramatics and moralising of its second. Jason Reitman’s latest dud moves from cheap smut to even cheaper sentiment, its trajectory recalling that of last year’s Don Jon directed by (and starring) Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The movie’s subject matter recalls that of Don Jon too, for Men Women & Children is another attempt to explore the effects of the Internet on interpersonal relationships. I say an “attempt”, because the movie sadly fails as comedy, drama or truly insightful exploration of the digitisation of communication.


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Friday, Oct 10, 2014
If you aren't familiar with Hozier, listen to "Take Me to Church" now because his tour is already selling out and he just released his first self-titled album ahead of his Saturday Night Live debut.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne may hail from Ireland but his music owes a large debt to fifties blues and gospel from the United States. If you aren’t already familiar with his music, it would be a good idea to get a head start now because a lot more people will be aware of him after he performs on Saturday Night Live this weekend. For the young artist, this is surely a huge milestone and a very memorable cap to the week during which he released his self-titled debut. In the past year, the 24-year old singer-songwriter had released two EPs, From Eden and Take Me to Church, the latter of which contains the slow-burning title track that helped him break through. Ahead of his performance at this past summer’s Newport Folk Festival, Hozier chatted briefly with us about “Take Me to Church” and its controversial music video.


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Friday, Oct 10, 2014
Ásgeir took a quick stab at PopMatters' 20 Questions before his show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Ásgeir is a rapidly up and coming Icelandic singer-songwriter who has played New York several times in the last year (I first caught his show at CMJ in 2013). He continues to win over fans as visible by the larger and larger venues he has been performing at, and selling out. His recent jaunt in New York included two shows, one at the Bowery Ballroom and one at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t actually sold out at MHOW but that wasn’t a deterrent from the musician diligently performing his soaring songs.


As before, Ásgeir played a cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” but even more exciting were the Icelandic versions of his songs, like the original “In the Silence”, the stunning “Dýrð í dauðaþögn”. He also included a few non-album songs that kept the audience transfixed especially as the artist remains on the quiet side. The highlight was still his most propulsive, “Torrent”, which he saved for the finale.


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Thursday, Oct 9, 2014
Peter Strickland confirms his reputation as one of contemporary British cinema’s most distinctive talents with a thrilling, immersive love story.

With his “rape-revenge” thriller debut Katalin Varga (2009) and its Giallo-horror tribute follow-up Berberian Sound Studio (2012), Peter Strickland immediately announced himself as one of the more distinctive, and certainly one of the most self-consciously “European”, of contemporary British filmmakers. He’s a cine-literate auteur conversant in arcane as well as popular modes and genres, and one who’s able to twist those modes to his own particular ends.


If neither Katalin Varga nor Berberian Sound Studio came out totally satisfying in the end, both pictures nonetheless demonstrated Strickland to be a daring filmmaker capable of giving the at present fairly conservative British industry a much-needed shake up.


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