Tag Archives: Film reviews

58th Chicago International Film Festival: Piaffe Review

Piaffe opens with cutting frames, projection tools, and the tools to make audio for a production. This introduction is an invigorating one, especially for me since I have worked in cinemas. I have seen the transition of projection technologies over the years. Piaffe blends the elements of filmmaking and foley artist work to serious levels. As its main character pushes herself (as a foley artist), her own body has strange transformations. Piaffe knows no limits as the transformations gets more graphic.

The odyssey in Piaffe is just the beginning of the weirdness that surrounds the film. The film is surrounded with pressure, disconnect, sex, night clubs, and creating art. Piaffe is like an imagination on acid. The disturbing content is unexplained. The film is visually bothersome.

In Piaffe, the film focuses on Eva, and she is played by Simone Bucio. Eva’s sibling Zara (played by Simon Jaikiriuma Paetau) bails on an assignment. Eva takes Zara’s job as a foley artist. Eva pushes herself to the limits. She collaborates sounds ranging from clicks, sand noises, and horse noises to the best of her ability. As Eva thrives for success, a horsetail grows out of her body. With Eva’s strange feelings, she becomes more submissive. She starts to want deeper connection. Eva’s feelings and choices are all over the place. As Eva goes deeper into figuring out what she desires, Piaffe becomes bizarre.

Piaffe is a clever film, but it its too much to handle. The foley artist task is where the film had my attention. When Eva goes crazy is where I started to get overwhelmed. Piaffe takes a creative aspect and spoils it with eroticism. Eva’s tail is the center of the bizarre activities she takes part in. Piaffe starts out with having nostalgic fun of cinematic traits but is over-ruled with weird sexual scenarios.

Piaffe is not one that to be watched on a full stomach. The film is repulsive as Eva goes deeper with her transformations. Piaffe is one to watch with an open mind. I found the film to be much for me.

I had faith in Piaffe. That is because of being a cinema enthusiast and loving the opening introductions of cutting films and reels. My captivation was there with the foley artist fun. However, when Eva realized that she has a tail, my attention was deteriorated. Went from being invigorative and involving to overwhelming sexual horror. Two stars for Piaffe.

TAR Review

The tempo is strong, there is non-stop excitement, and Cate Blanchett’s performance in TAR will blow her audience out of the water. TAR is a work of art that displays brilliance on many levels.

In TAR, Blanchett is Lydia TAR, a composer-conductor and first-ever female director of an important German Orchestra. With a focus on Western classical music, she has a ton of projects and new evolving talent to be shown to the world. She has an assistant named Francesca (played by Noemie Merlant), and a partner Sharon Goodnow (played by Nina Hoss), and she feels her successful life is never going away. Slowly though, issues begin to arise as her ego takes over her. She begins to reject evolving talent among the musicians. The social media about her begins to show some red flags, and she feels Francesca is going behind her back. Regardless, TAR, the accomplished composer and musician, does not stop to deal with her problems. She keeps going, and Blanchett’s performance takes the film to new levels.

The tensions in TAR are harsh, and the problems are realistic. TAR always needs be the hero. She never lets anyone in to discuss her errors or the other talents around her. It is all about her. And her self-absorbed mindset carries irreparable consequences, including an emerging musician committing suicide.

I was astounded by the writing of TAR. Blanchett’s character is honest, if flawed. The film shows how cutthroat many artists can become, and how those who are accomplished become more into their own accomplishments than supporting others. The question of the film is whether TAR’s career is on the line and, sadly, it may be. Her defense to being fired centers on her background, her fan base, her awards, and her tenure track. But will this be enough?

Director Todd Field knows his approach to TAR, displaying the actors’ knowledge, craft, and their egos. Blanchett’s role has a massive ego. Her performance is enthralling and she is amazingly concise with her tone of voice and speech in the film. TAR is directed with marvelous vision and, again, Blanchett’s performance is astonishing. TAR may be the best film of the year. It is visionary and daring, and I loved it. Four stars for TAR.

Amsterdam Review

David O’Russell is a director who delivers unique and brilliant aspects to his directing style. With Amsterdam, O’Russell brings a strong narrative with a variety of characters whose backgrounds are genius, who relate well, and who add pros and cons to the film’s central conflict. Amsterdam also has an inviting, catchy plot. But my issue with Amsterdam is that it’s less exciting than O’Russell’s previous films. The storyline is on par with its conflict, but the presentation just seems a bit mediocre. Despite the mediocrities, though, Amsterdam’s narrative remains concise.

Among Amsterdam’s impressive lineup of characters is Burt Berendsen (played by Christian Bale), Valerie Voze (played by Margot Robbie), Harold Woodman (played by John David Washington), Milton King (played by Chris Rock), Detective Hiltz (played by Alessandro Nivola), and other big names in the film. Of all these amazing characters, I would give Bale credit for the most brilliant acting. And not only is his characterization and performance unique, but he does the narration in many parts of Amsterdam. Burt explains his relationships with many of the other actors, and how they all go way back. O’Russell shows in Amsterdam that he knows how to keep background as a steady focus while staying in tune with the present focus.

The time frame in Amsterdam is the 1930s. For those who find the film’s characters sketchy, many of the characters have an odd background, making the film even sketchier. Three of the characters— nurse, a doctor, and a lawyer—witness a murder, and they end up being framed for the murder. The incident spawns all kinds of political and other underlying issues due to the racism of the times.

I felt like O’Russell was trying to take almost a Wes Anderson approach with this film. His narration felt at times like a version of The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), one of my favorite Anderson films. At other times Amsterdam felt like a lighter version of O’Russell’s American Hustle (2013). And even though Amsterdam is less exciting than O’Russell’s other films, the much-detailed background from the narrative is vibrant.

So unlike some of O’Russell’s other films, don’t expect to jump from your seats much with Amsterdam. Again, the film has an inviting narrative, but it’s just not very exciting. It’s quirky, but not so much with the suspense or danger. In my view, Amsterdamjust lacks enthusiasm. Two and a half stars for Amsterdam.