Short Takes – April 2, 2017

Only my third episode of these, which I guess is good in that I’ve been able to write about almost every new release I’ve seen, but I’m in another busy stretch and thus amateur film criticism has taken a back seat.

RAW (2017, Julia Ducournau)

Worth seeing if you’re into disgusting body-horror dramas, because it has a lot on its mind and presents ideas relating to female sexual liberation, college hazing, and parental influence with fresh perspectives (and a keen camera sense). It can feel muddled at times (where is the faculty, and in what world does a vet school like this exist?) and definitely isn’t for everyone, but it leaves a bit of a bite mark on you.

THE SALESMAN (2016, Asghar Farhadi)

The weakest of the four Farhadi films I’ve seen. It’s a bit worrisome that his two earlier films (ABOUT ELLY and A SEPARATION) were the most crisply written and his two most recent (THE PAST and this) are so heavy-handed. He’s always been tell-don’t-show, and I’m hoping he develops a more refined vision, but even when his eye is dull, his pen usually isn’t. It’s too bad this has such a leaden pace, full of so much painful exposition and lurching plot development. It’s hard to care even remotely about this contrived situation, because despite Taraneh Alidoosti’s sympathetic Rana, the inexplicably Cannes-winning performance of Shahab Hosseini is metallic and lifeless.

TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016, Yeon Sang-ho)

I usually don’t write about non-theatrical new viewings but I wanted to alert readers to this epic, giant blockbuster from South Korea. It’s WORLD WAR Z without the boring parts: nonstop action (after the clumsy development of the first 15 minutes), horrific zombie attacks, likable characters, and all the disaster movie cliches you can chase off a cliff. It just got released on Netflix streaming, so zombie-horror fanatics shouldn’t miss it.


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