The King and the Showman; Battle of the Sexes (2017), dir: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris

uk posterWhat could be more satisfactory than watching a charismatic person embody another charismatic person?! (Many things I imagine but that is not the point here…) This is the case for Emma Stone and Billie Jean King who in the Battle of the Sexes found one another and a strong and emotive performance was born. Apart from a successfully achieved – however unlikely – physical resemblance (apart from the dentalized lisp they coincidentally share…), Emma Stone captures the speech patterns, the forward-leaning walking style and all the traits of King’s introvert nature. She is mesmerising and powerful, she fills the screen with her talent and focus.

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Steve Carell gives us Bobby Riggs, the man who had a very relevant for his time (unfortunately, for ours too…) and showbizzie idea to put a feminist to fight on court a ‘sugar daddy’ chauvinist pig. Carell is excellent at adding layers to an otherwise ridiculous persona; like Stone, he does a great job at presenting a most realistic version of his character, capturing Bobby’s caricature traits, his quick and pompous talking style and his social talents that extend from the bets on court he sets with friends to the imaginative games he improvises to entertain his son. However, Carell doesn’t leave it there, he delves deeper into Bobby’s psyche and delivers a more personal portrait, that of a man who faces addiction, struggles with a dull routine that sets him even further away from a stardom he feels he still deserves, and who is in denial when things get tough.

Emma Stone is equally exquisite in her portrait of this great woman and athlete. She is playing in many courts so to speak, as she is in a fight for gender equality first in the sport but then also, this extends to the American society at large. In addition, she is facing an immense challenge in preparation for the game against Riggs and on the day of course and finally, she is discovering her sexuality.

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Andrea Riseborough is a lovely hairdresser, Marilyn who becomes Bille Jean’s first female lover. The scenes they share are exceptionally sweet and intoxicating thanks to their chemistry and the numbing close-ups. Numbing and investigative in the sense that this way of shooting puts us in the place of these women, admiring each other, carefully observing every little trait they have, the smiles, the eyes, the shyness, and the words that carefully and slowly come out. There is something precious and overly personal in capturing their relationship in romantic and dreamy shots.

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Other memorable mentions from a cast perspective; Sarah Silverman is incredibly powerful and effortlessly funny as Gladys Heldman, the tennis promoter who fought alongside King and her fellow tennis pros against the male tennis establishment. Alan Cumming, a stylist whose warmth and words infested with meaning created some delightfully wise moments on screen.

Larry King, Billie Jean’s husband is played by Austin Stowell who is a very pretty face but not just that. It is thanks to the hotel scene where he has an unexpected encounter with lingerie that we understand how good an actor he is; the stillness of his eyes, the confusion that gives its place to bitterness and the process of making a crucial decision for his marriage, to swallow his words or act on them. His performance is transparent to all these thoughts and feelings and the scene is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally charged of the film alongside with the long-anticipated match and the first encounters of Billie and Marilyn.

The film gave room for powerful performances, but it is not a very good one. It could have benefited by being 30 minutes shorter and by better editing in the sense that transitions between the parallel narratives disempowered the tension of the storytelling. In reality, Battle of the Sexes seems to be treating the events with a lightness that does not do credit to the battle in question.

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Somehow the film puts a veil on the darkness and cruelty of that time, focusing on the superficial elements of the actual show and not gazing at the emotional effect discrimination places in our protagonists’ hearts. Also, it felt as Bobby’s vulgarity was overshadowed by his portrayal as a harmless clown, which could not have been possibly the case. A man capable of such grotesque behaviour is imbecile and harmful as he accredits similar views held by other members of the society as we’ve recently witnessed with Donald Trump in the US elections for instance. Battle of the sexes has a documentary feel and a soundtrack that easily transports us in the ‘70s however, only performances and certain lines give the piece tension and thrill with the rest of it feeling like a silent and passive depiction of events or to be more accurate, the backstories of THE event.

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After the film you might check the original game, look up the amazing Billie Jean King, try to imitate Sarah Silverman’s accent and play some tennis because it is an amazing and thrilling sport. Also, man or woman you might take a few seconds to go through your most unprocessed, instinctive thoughts and pick those that have some Bobby in them and then make sure you understand why they’re there and how you get read of them. However, if you can’t find anything wrong with them then, don’t waste a minute longer and go see a therapist immediately! Finally, you might find yourself wondering how honest you are about your true desires and what are YOU going to do to change the things that matter?

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Love’s GLOrious epilogue – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017), dir: Paul McGuigan

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The film is a personal portrait of a love story, no matter how unusual and morbid it becomes. The early memories of their affair interwind with the last days of Gloria’s life and in fact, are only two years apart, which makes it feel even more an unfair and tragic a conclusion. Flashbacks and the present are smoothly alternated in a way that will make you think about parallel universes and the relativity of knowledge and time. The reality is that because we are set to see Gloria’s end since the very beginning, this tragic disposition sets a tone of inescapable misery and grief that affects the lightness and playfulness of their early days of carefree loving.

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It is an affectionate yet sad story of an improbable romance. The 30-year age difference between Gloria and Peter challenges the credibility of this love affair but given the charisma of this woman and her brilliant acting career it makes sense why in the eyes of a young man, a struggling actor nonetheless she would be the most desirable woman.

And to be fair, she truly is. Annette Bening (Gloria Grahame) is so powerful, charming and piercing that you won’t be getting enough of her. Glo’s voice is hypnotising and smooth like a fingertips caress, her body moves with grace and her eyes sparkle with childish vitality and excitement. Annette Bening’s presence is so strong and mesmerising that fills the screen and your heart with admiration, anticipation, sorrow and tenderness.

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Jamie Bell is excellent as Peter Turner, his energy is infectious and his affection transparent as it feels incredibly original. It is an amazing gift he has to always appear authentic and emotionally charged with his physicality playing a great part in that.

I loved the dancing scene they share when they first meet because it a splendid prologue of their later affair and a glimpse of who they truly are. They are not synchronised but they are a pair, he is energetic and passionate, she is delicate and craves for attention and desire. The restless movement of the camera transmits the sexual tension, the eagerness for closeness and the curiosity for each other. The Romeo & Juliet scene towards the end was also an unforgettable experience as performances were sensational and the gesture in itself is the most moving declaration of love.

If nothing else, the film gives room for great, impactful performances and a bittersweet feeling about love. In that sense, Film Stars is a film about giving someone what they need, offering affection, sharing amazing moments, standing by them when trouble appears and finally, coming face to face with an immeasurably painful loss.

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After the film you might re-watch some Gloria Grahame films, question whether age difference limits sexual attraction, think about what makes you fall in love; could admiration be an integral part of it? Also, you might start picturing yourself in 30 years from now and wonder whether love will have a central role in it and finally, you might be entertained by the thought that experiencing a great romance could occur in the most improbable time and place (like Liverpool…?)

Sexual repression unlocks magnificent powers – Thelma (2017), dir: Joachim Trier

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Thelma opens with a mysterious, ice-cold act that introduces us to the character by posing a grave question. What is wrong with Thelma? What terrible things is she capable of that pushes her own father to the edge?

Thelma is a slow-burn existential thriller and a beautifully-shot supernatural Nordic tale that is uniquely scary, sexy and empowering. There is a dreamy, alluring and magical ambience that Trier orchestrates, especially through the exquisite slow movements of the camera, the indulging portraits and the sensuality of Thelma’s fantasies and dreams. The film presents an amalgam of drama, romance, coming-of-age adventure, thriller and mystery.

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There is a precious serenity and smoothness in the sequence of shots that are dressed with a cryptic, intense and rough soundtrack. It is impressive how a language contributes to the telling of a story, is almost a character in itself and fits perfectly the surroundings and idiosyncrasies of the protagonists. The Norwegian language, rich in musically intonated consonants, of the likes of F, S, L and R (at least to the ears of someone who doesn’t speak any of the Germanic languages) is sweet and hard at the same time, just like our heroine. Her face is perfect, like that of a porcelain doll but is also tormented and desperately emotional. Eili Harboe is excellent at conveying fear, confusion, lust and joy and so delivers a captivating and piercing performance.

Thelma is young, inexperienced and shy when she leaves home to study in the capital. Like a scared animal she slowly and carefully makes her first steps out in the world, which she has been taught is full of dangers and corruptive temptations. She takes little bites at a time and seems to surrender control and gradually lose herself, or to better put this, reinvent herself.

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Thelma is a victim of controlling parenting and that is a much relatable element of her story. She struggles to make her own decisions, to establish her limits and personal space and be the master of her mind and heart. Her catholic upbringing dictates her to feel shame for experiencing sexual attraction for her friend Anja (Kaya Wilkins). The pair has a beguiling chemistry that enrich their masterfully-directed scenes together.

This unprecedented passion for her friend sets off a vicious cycle of repression for Thelma and pills off her conditioned reservations by allowing her true self hesitantly immerge. Guilt and fear around homosexuality begins as her main trigger but later on, it is just the tip of the ice berg as she is called to trace the origins of her inexplicable powers and shed light on her complicated relationship with her parents. It is only through crisis and struggle that Thelma gets in contact with her original identity and instinctive desires that unlock her long-banished potential.

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Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt stage Thelma’s suffering, confusion and self-discovery with a brilliant script and Trier’s visual style is masterful and aesthetically compelling. Remarkable scenes unfold throughout the film such as the still of the broken glass of milk stained with blood, the frightening swim in the deep, blue pool, the reptilian erotic hallucination, the intense opera incident and towards the end, the flaming punishment in the lake.

The director collusively winks at the audience with the closing scene that addresses universal agonies, such as the ambiguity of liberty of choice, the exertion of one’s power over others and the strength needed to accept one’s true nature. We have witnessed Thelma go through fire and water to liberate herself from the ghosts of her past and the shadows of her present, so we naturally find ourselves on her side in her decision to embrace her powers. With the ending credits came a huge smile on my face because I have immersed into the story of a kind and loving survivor who has taken life by the horns and has found her place in the world, just the way she is. With the last seconds of the film came pouring ethical questions around Thelma’s choice but by that point I loved her too much to care.

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After the film you might crave a (forbidden) apple, bring yourself to recall the times you felt you had supernatural powers (might as well be when you were five…), think how you’d use your powers, would you be selfish or share them with the world? Also, you might think about your life choices up till now, be honest with yourself and count the ones that you made entirely on your own but then, you might think…are we ever free to choose when we are forever shaped from our environment?! Finally, you might have some weird dreams involving burning boats, birds, reptiles, thunders and beautiful but dangerous creatures lurking in the shadows.

Thunderous laughter – Thor: Ragnarok (2017), dir: Taika Waititi

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This was such a blast! Laughing out loud throughout and being impressed by the charisma in the air. And… let’s all admit that the film’s poster could not have been any cooler!

Vivid colours, excellent visual effects, classic but effective storyline drawing the battle between good and evil, right and wrong, bravery and cowardice, the old and the new, etc. And all these given under the 70’s rock and electro musical influence that enriches the action scenes with a particular kick-ass dimension. The film’s tone although inspired by almost four decades ago is refreshing and beguiling. The action is tightly connected with transitory scenes that are purposeful in that one can even detect a laconic intention in directing from Waititi.

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There were moments when I felt that Ragnarok is all a comic-book film should be, a feel-good picture that leaves no opportunity for laughter unexploited but importantly so by not crossing the limits to ridicule. Of course, there are also films like Logan that again seem to be the pride and joy of the genre but found on the other side of the emotional scale of course.

There were a few amazing scenes, like the Valkyrie’s memory which is a slow motion, visual effect masterpiece. Valkyries and Hela seem as if they’ve jumped out a painting in an Arts Museum. The opening dialogue between Thor and the Fire Demon Surtur. Anthony Hopkins’ Asgard scene, where he imitates Loki’s lightness of speech and elegance of movement. Scenes shared between Thor and Loki are effortlessly funny and moving thanks to Hemsworth’s and Hiddleston’s chemistry. Thor’s attempts to take Hulk under his influence project childness and playfulness that keeps you interested. Banner’s first scenes after putting Hulk to sleep are pure enjoyment.

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Thor: Ragnarok is one of the funniest comic-book adaptation films, perhaps the second most self-mocking movie of the genre after Deadpool. Breaking the third wall is not necessary here however, with Thor being more than well-known amongst this audience who have countless references to rely on for ample laughter and excitement as it is.

Hemsworth proves himself as a gifted lead man with a surprising flair for comedy that does justice to the brilliantly entertaining dialogues. There’s also a sweetness in the character, his goofiness and comical predisposition are marked by a timid modesty, predominantly seen in the classic Hollywood leads of the likes of Rock Hudson, James Stewart and Cary Grant. The physicality of the part is again, a wonderful achievement: an integral part of how realistic the “strongest of the Avengers” should look like and of course, a great pleasure for us to behold (!)

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Tom Hiddleston puts a great deal of emotional charge in his performance; he plays along with the ridicule and parody of the damaged, competitive and mistrustful relationship of the brothers but at the same time he seems to have decided to delve deep into Loki’s psyche and deliver an exquisitely complex villain (considering the limitations of the nature of the project of course…).

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Cate Blanchett on the other hand, focuses more on Hela’s body language and delivery of lines to establish a powerful and distinct presence in the film. Blanchett’s Hela walks decisively and beautifully, swinging her body softly from side to side like a proud, seductive deer. Make-up and costume contribute massively to her transformation to a slim, elegant, deadly demon with shiny horns and piercing eyes. I caught myself looking forward to seeing her on screen; there was nothing of older roles of hers in Hela, it felt such an original approach.

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And what about Jeff Goldblum? How did he invent a Grandmaster so absurd and at the same time unpretentiously hilarious?! If you ask me, his scenes were amongst the funniest of the entire film; the intonation he delivered his lines with show a precious instinct for comedy while maintaining a certain naturalness. The way he fixes his jacket, the playfulness of his speech and other details composing this persona made me adore his presence on screen and left me wanting more. Incredible he was!

Mark Ruffalo was also a pleasure to watch both as Hulk and Banner; playing two parts with entirely different requirements each, the former being demanding on physicality and the latter accentuating fear and vulnerability.

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After the film you might attempt to imitate Hemsworth’s accent because we all know… Australians are simply the coolest, be tempted to do the “get help” trick with a friend at some point just for fun, stick the phrase “cause that’s what heroes do” after practically everything, you might ponder about what god/goddess you’d be of, would you be a peaceful or a wroth one, what signature costume you’d wear, powers etc., and finally, you might think about Banner’s situation for a second, how it resonates with most of us to some extent and also, trace the triggers that brings out the Hulk in you.

Fathers sin, children suffer – The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), dir: Yorgos Lanthimos

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Yorgos Lanthimos returns with an ancient Greek tragedy brought to a modern setting with a necessary touch of the metaphysical. The family we meet here is not as dysfunctional as the one in Dogtooth but is quite out of this world, stiff talks, wooden directions and no emotional connection can be traced amongst its members.

Colin Farrell plays Dr. Steven Murphy, a cardiologist who fancies a drink or two, loves his kids in spite of his emotional alienation and gets turned on by women only when they’re under general anaesthesia (or pretend to be..). Nicole Kidman plays his wife, Anna, an ophthalmologist with less liveliness and warmth than that found in the aforementioned state. They were both excellent and magically synchronised to convey the despair, fear and uncertainty of their great tragedy. Their kids portrayed by Raffey Cassidy (14-year-old Kim) and Sunny Suljic (Bobby) were exquisite little sufferers whose faces presented a fresh canvas to draw the fight for survival.

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Stephen has been keeping in his life, in a rather suspicious context and frequency the mentally unstable son of an old patient that died on his surgical table. Barry Keoghan plays the 16-year old boy, Martin with great care to detail and piercing, merciless determination that creeps even the bravest of us. Keoghan’s performance marriages apathy with desperate need for affection, and adult cruelty with childish enthusiasm.  In other words, Lanthimos’ and Filippou’s pen drew a multi-layered character that Keoghan’s talent and – I hope you won’t mind me saying- looks did him justice and elevated him to one of the most bloodcurdling cinematic characters of late, in my opinion.

The film deals with grand notions and universal human fears, such as the fear of punishment, the blasphemy of playing God, the meaning and forms of justice, the impossibly hard decisions (of the likes of the 1982 Sophie’s Choice…), etc. The mysterious plot is fuelled with claustrophobic tension, with the characters interacting in dryness and awkwardness, the scenes unfolding in long hospital corridors, big conference rooms and small spaces, that could barely fit the threatening, dark vale of Lanthimos’ camera.

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For anyone familiar with ancient Greek myths the title is not a mystery but the very inspiration and metaphor on which the script is based. Long story short, Agamemnon kills a scared deer so Artemis, the goddess of hunt, decides that his punishment should be to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia to balance the scale and restore justice. In our story, the doctor could be the equivalent of Agamemnon who after having committed a grave injustice is called to pay the price by making the most unimaginable sacrifice a parent can make. Artemis therefore, must have taken the form of Martin here, the boy who lost his father and with the power he possesses, or the external metaphysical force he becomes a messenger for (that shall forever remain a mystery…) punishes the doctor for the sacrilege.

I loved the film’s opening scene, it was a marvellous introduction to the doctor’s world, and an invitation for the audience to internalise the cautionary tale about to unfold. The spectacle of a beating heart under music weaved with doom and characterised by a thunderous echo was an engaging start. Also, it is to be admired how masterfully Lanthimos constructs with his monochrome pallet an ambience so bizarre, tense, emotional, gripping, funny and creepy, all at the same time!

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For instance, the devastating scenes showing Farrell unable to deal with the supernatural nightmare are followed by scenes infested with black humour that show that in the face of death all social structures crumble, even that of the family institution which we’re supposed to rely on for our survival in the first years of our life and where love is provided and taught in its purest and most powerful form. Astonishing was the scene of the “sacrifice” the tragic escalation and emotionally-charged atmosphere of which was simultaneously cunningly sardonic and vicious.

Remarkable were also the slow-motion shots, when Martin rides with Kim on his motorcycle, the final scenes where the family cross their path with Martin, etc. as it feels like time freezes seconds at a time and thus, we are peeping into the slightest details of one’s face, their eyes, freckles, hair, the slightest movements and expressions and all these dressed with a tortured, dark soundtrack.

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After the film you might delve into Greek myths and be astonished by how slightly the darkest aspects of our nature have shifted through the millennia, if you have siblings you might call your parents and present them with the grand question (be prepared to be called crazy accompanied with an angry refusal to respond…), then you might catch yourself focusing on the beating of your heart, you might invent a new game inspired by the film’s most tragic and sardonic scene to play with friends (not telling you what I have in mind, you should come up with your own…), finally you might contemplate what sort of sins you have been committing and dread that punishment might be on its way…

An unbearably wise and peachy beautiful dream – Call me by your name (2017), dir: Luca Guadagnino

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Feel intensely… like you’ve been thrown in the most freezing river, like the first time you heard your all-time favourite song, the first time you saw the one who monopolised your mind to the expense of your whole being, like the sunniest, most relaxing and cosiest summer afternoon. Funnily the most emotionally poignant moments in life are identified as our first contact with something or someone exceptional. This magical coming-of-age cinematic love story consists of firsts both for its protagonists and its audience.

Guadagnino’s new film tenderly touches upon our senses as a stroll down memory lane given that the story of a teenager’s sexual awakening is incredibly identifiable. As the title betrays, transference and immersion into someone else’s experience is what the masterful director and brilliant actors achieve here for us, and it is an absolute joy and a painful test at the same time.

Call Me by Your Name - Still 1The rhythm is lively, playful but also, slow and sentimental with Guadagnino shooting from different angles, adjusting height and speed around the rooms and the stunning Italian province. The sensuality found in nature matches perfectly and harmoniously the insides of the culturally-rich villa, and the characters’ personalities.

Guadagnino’s canvas is the exquisite nature of his home country that he somehow manages to emerge us into to the fullest extent; biking in rough country roads, biting a ripe peach, driving your fingers into the warm grass, swimming in a cold lake, touching another’s skin in the zenith of passion and greedy appetite.

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Timothée Chalamet is fresh, passionate and brave in his performance as the 17-year old Elio. In a part that strips the actor of all his defences and proves that this level of emotional vulnerability allows for the greatest performances. And Chalamet is certainly remarkable and leaves no doubt of his ample talent and zeal.

Armie Hammer oozes sensitivity and painful pride as Oliver, a post-grad student interning under Elio’s father and staying with the family for 6 long weeks. He is magnetising and dizzily attractive by being an amalgam of bipolar energy, the smoothness of his voice switched to arrogant, laconic expressions, and his elegant posture alternated with rapid and decisive movements.

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The chemistry of the two is so welcome and evident, particularly in the scenes where a flood of emotions and delayed gratified yearning is victoriously reciprocated. The sensual physicality of these scenes is a hymn to love and magic of human connection.

The film is painted with the warmest colours and the tone starts relaxed, shy and explorative. Elio’s curiosity and romantic anticipation slowly emerge and keep us tense and hopeful. The sexual tension and ambiguity equal to an emotional thriller. And when the feelings are reciprocated, we see a passionate love story evolve in the dramatic proportions that every doomed romance deserves. History teaches that it is the most devastating sentiment and yet the most powerful and enduring that of the forbidden love.

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I felt Call Me By Your Name can be divided into three parts, the first being the exploration and realisation of burning sexual desire for the first crush, the second being the gratification of reciprocated acceptance and of emotional and physical connection, and the last being the torment of separation and learning how to embrace pain.

Michael Stuhlbarg, as Elio’s father, delivers one of the most heart-breaking and wise monologues in recent cinematic history, in my humble opinion. His devastatingly piercing words hold great meaning not only to his son but to all of us. It is a difficult and momentous revelation that accompanies a tender and loving advice, delivered in such an authentic and forthright way that will grab your soul and never let it go.

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Being homosexual in the 80’s Elio would have to make a choice, live life to the fullest or lock his true desires away for the sake of a normal life, which is arguably the most difficult situation one could be and thus, cannot be compared to the tests of love everyday folk are put under. However, it touched me so deeply and acutely because it is a lesson for us all; it invites us to be brave by embracing pain, anger and disappointment so that we are able to welcome love again.

To sum up, words don’t do the film justice so please head to the cinema to experience it yourselves and to get lost into the dreamy world of lovers that only Guadagnino knows how to construct. The aforementioned honest monologue of the father, the phone call that seals the faith of the first love, the bitter and unfair deprivation of it and the lack of control in this and finally, the last, extended shot of Elio’s face is a tremendous epilogue to a beautiful romance of eruptive emotions that teaches a young boy how to love.

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After the film you might have temporarily blurred vision due to the river of tears you’ll cry, and when there is none left, you might dance to the rhythm of the film’s amazing 80’s soundtrack, recall your first great love and the level of devastation you had to overcome because of it, eat a peach or two, book your next holidays for Italy, imitate Oliver’s deliciously arrogant “Later” and strive for everyday magic and passion as life is indeed too short for regrets.

Unanimously piercing satire – The Death of Stalin (2017), dir: Armando Iannucci

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Men in power can be outrageous and Iannucci seems to know that well. Not only does he know but he is also brilliant at conveying this on screen in the form of sharp satire, with the contribution of extremely talented individuals.

The canvas is the Soviet-era, and particularly the days after the death of the Union’s great leader. Naturally, his comrades start playing dancing chairs first in complete shock, and moments later mad for the opportunity to replace the tyrant, they start plotting and exchanging creative swearing with poisonous ease.

The characters are caricatures of a different time and yet, alarmingly familiar. The ensemble cast is exceptional and admittedly one of the two most unique elements of the film, the other being Iannucci’s pen.

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Speaking of which, I was particularly surprised that the film embraced the ugliness of realism, in the sense that the atrocities taking place under the Stalin’s rule – kidnapping, torture, rape, executions – were bluntly displayed and blended into social satire and farcical scenes. Personally, I felt this horrific background reduced the film’s comical effect significantly in spite of them being given the minimum possible screen time.

Political amorality is depicted in the faces of the comrades that pass quickly from antagonising to plotting the elimination of one another.  The chief of Soviet security, Beria is a figure of satanic appetite and monstrous efficiency in pulling the strings and pushing his rivals to the edge. Simon Russell Beale is such a powerful performer that makes this cartoonish character feel upsettingly real.

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Michael Palin is superb as Molotov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; a pitiful, passive and self-sacrificial man with a comical devotion to the Stalinism. Steve Buscemi is Nikita Khrushchev, the head of the Party and sets the great plan of de-Stalinizing the country with nervous anticipation and dramatic gestures that entertain. Jeffrey Tambor is a ridiculous, vain and extravagant Malenkov. From Secretary of the Central Committee he rises to Chairman when the short, foul-mouthed, corrupted leader is put into his red-ribbon box and he is such a delight while doing so. Malenkov’s naivety and asinine gaze makes us almost pity him despite his crimes.

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Jason Isaacs is outstanding as the uncouth war hero with the heavy accent and preposterous collection of metals on his chest. Isaacs is an extremely gifted actor and is also responsible for intense laughter, cracking us up simply by the way he bears himself as the pompous Military Commander with the signature scar. As Stalin’s offspring, Andrea Riseborough and Rupert Friend are given their fair amount of funny lines and neurotic weirdness. Let’s not forget Paddy Considine who opens the film as Andreyev, the panicky radio producer who needs to find a way to satisfy the leader under time pressure.

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The film moves fast and has an intense, almost neurotic pulse as stinging exchanges full of meaning take place. In the comical ridiculousness of this conception reality is deeply entrenched and although, it reduces the power of comedy it adds to the intertemporal social and political satire attempted here. For instance, there are scenes like the decision-making/ voting one, the absurdity of which touches upon our most basic human flaws and so do all lines/ jokes betraying the thirst for power.

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After the film you might drink Vodka while re-watching Woody Allen’s “Love and Death”, revisit a Dostoyevsky’s novel, fantasize upon what role you’d assume in such an unholy Commission, think about a time when you desperately wanted to fill someone else’s shoes and how far you ended up going to see it happen, you might also delve into the work of Russian classical composers while contemplating the extend of corruption in your country’s political scene and then you might end up drinking more Vodka to forget….