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by Stuart Henderson

16 Sep 2011


KILL LIST
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring, Emma Fryer
Country: United Kingdom

Kill List is the single most demented horror film I have seen in years, and maybe also the very best. Defying any genre expectations—the first 40 minutes or so take place at a highly naturalistic, Mike Leigh-esque dinner party, for example—and pushing viewers toward a thoroughly baffling blood-soaked ending, there is nothing much here that’s familiar. Which is why it all feels so fresh, so invigorating, and, eventually, so goddamn terrifying.

by Stuart Henderson

15 Sep 2011


MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
Director: Sean Durkin
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, John Hawkes, Louisa Krause, Sarah Paulson
Country: USA

An exquisite, terrifying, and marvelously vertiginous film, Martha Marcy May Marlene is my favourite movie of the Festival, and may stand up as my favourite picture of the year. A meditative study of a young woman (a dazzling Elizabeth Olsen) during the first weeks after she escapes from a cult, the narrative moves back and forth in time, juxtaposing her struggle reconnecting with her relatives on the outside world with scenes demonstrating the relative ease she had connecting with the “family” at their farm.

by Stuart Henderson

15 Sep 2011


ELLES
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Joanna Kulig, Anaïs Demoustier
Country: France / Poland / Germany

Juliette Binoche plays a top-flight investigative reporter for Elle magazine who has been tasked with an article on students who turn to prostitution to pay their bills. To that end, she has interviewed a pair of young women (one a working class social climber and the other a Polish immigrant) and is now sitting at her desk reflecting on what they have told her, what they have been through, and the ways their stories conflict with her own feminist assumptions about sex work.

by Stuart Henderson

15 Sep 2011


DARK HORSE
Director: Todd Solondz
Cast: Justin Bartha, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Jordan Gelber, Donna Murphy, Christopher Walken
Country: USA

Todd Solondz (Happiness, Life During Wartime) understands tackiness on a deeper level than just about everyone else in the business besides John Waters. Fascinated by the weirdos, geeks and screw-ups among us (and the weird geeky screw-up inside each of us), at his best Solondz can put his audience in a place where we are laughing at characters not just because they are ridiculous, but because we feel like we’ve been there too, somehow. At his worst, and he is at his worst a lot of the time in this picture, Solondz has us merely sneering at his characters, mocking them for their foibles, and cheering on their failures.

by Stuart Henderson

15 Sep 2011


THE KID WITH A BIKE
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes
Cast: Cecile de France, Thomas Doret, Jeremie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Egon Di Mateo
Country: Belgium / France / Italy

This quiet little tour de force about a troubled young boy has bewitched the critics at this year’s Festival. It is one of those movies one overhears talk of while in line for a screening, the critic using words like “classic” and “masterpiece” and “genius”. Recalling such top-shelfers as 400 Blows with its unflinching but nuanced treatment of childhood psychology and emotional distress, The Kid With a Bike portrays a world that feels eminently lived in, and true to the messiness of experience.

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