27 July 2018.
HOTEL ARTEMIS ***1/2
Jodie Foster deserves an Oscar nomination for her sad, tender portrayal of the woman who runs this peculiar hotel. It has been some time since we’ve seen her in such a meaty role and she does it justice, as she always has – ever since her turn as the teenage prostitute in “Taxi Driver” back in 1976.
Do we have only 10 years to get to this sort of of dystopian anarchy?! For it’s Los Angeles in 2028, the dark city is teeming with riots, and the only place that seems safe is this hotel, run by Foster’s ‘Nurse’, and her trusty Everest. Not anyone can get into Hotel Artemis, for it’s actually an exclusive safe house and hospital for criminals. And it has strict rules that keep it safe…for those in the know.
First-time director and writer (for such films as “Iron Man” and “Mission Impossible”) Drew Pearce has created here a tight, elegant mood of a dark thriller, reminiscent of an early Luc Besson work.
He has packed it with quirky characters, each more suspicious and intriguing than the last.
Twisted happenings take place in this ominous fortress that will have you on the edge of your seat, not only due to the action and music but also to the shrouded backgrounds of the protagonists.
It’s a delicious, thrilling ride, with the intensity that had last year’s “Baby Driver” humming…
AU POSTE *** (vo French)
Be warned, this is not your usual film. But if you enjoy surrealism, black comedy and are a fan of Benoit Poelvoorde, you’ll get a kick out of this bizarre movie, directed by the playful Quentin Dupieux. I first learned of Dupieux in Locarno 2010 when I saw his film “Rubber” on the Piazza Grande, about a solitary tire rolling along some desert back roads and provoking all sorts of wild, murderous adventures. It was an absolute hoot.
His latest is another loony theatre-of-the-absurd, somewhat like an austere, modern Bunuel, only 73 minutes long and set in a police station during an interrogation between a detective and an innocent murder suspect. Well, he was innocent…
You either love Dupieux’s work, or think he’s crazy. I think he’s a bit of a crazy genius.
MAMMA MIA – HERE WE GO AGAIN *1/2
The title says it the way it is – with a tired sigh – oh lord, here we go again…
This second episode, which tries so hard to be fun and glittery like the first one was with the mega Meryl Streep, is the epitome of bad kitsch (there is good kitsch, you know…). It’s actually the misbegotten brainchild of the two male Abba stars, Björn and Benny, who executive-produced the film and wrote some new songs for it. How much can one milk that myth? Well, there is a huge fan base out there, and they will be coming back for more corn…
Directed this time around by the English Ol Parker, the rehashed players, including those usually excellent actors, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan, mill around like cardboard props looking uncomfortable in their wooden roles. And the glorious Streep is a no-show until the very end, which leaves quite a hole in the entire endeavor.
The happy exception is the radiant, very talented Lily James, steadily evolving – since her turn in Downton Abbey – in such roles as “Cinderella”, in “Baby Driver”, “Darkest Hour” and just recently as the star of “The Guernsey Literary Society…” Here she plays young Donna – the Meryl Streep role – and manages to shake off all the silliness and give a brilliant performance, both as actress and dancer. She is the saving grace of the film.
Another interesting moment is when the eternal Cher comes on as Grandma, though her entrance feels staged, anticlimactic and botched – somewhat like the whole film. But when she sings, she manages to get under one’s skin with her sultry voice, even if her acting is as stiff as the rest of the cast. It must be the hapless script and dialogue, and bad direction, that has all these veteran stars frozen in their roles.
Go see it since you’re curious, but you’ll be cringing and your mind wandering…you were warned.
Unless you’re a huge Abba fan, in which case look out for the mini cameos of the two producers…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.