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Film Review: FIRE (2022): Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon Amaze in a Probing Dramatic Film | FilmBook

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Film Review: FIRE (2022): Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon Amaze in a Probing Dramatic Film | FilmBook

Fire Review

Fire (2022) Film Review, a movie directed by Claire Denis, written by Claire Denis and Christine Angot and starring Juliette Binoche, Vincent Lindon, Gregoire Colin, Bulle Ogier, Issa Perica, Alice Houri, Mati Diop, Bruno Podalydes and Lola Creton.

French filmmaker Claire Denis’ new film, Fire (also known as Both Sides of the Blade), starts with a picture of tranquility and ends with enough dramatic emotional intensity to keep the viewer spellbound thanks to the performances of its leads, Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon. Since the film is essentially about a love triangle that spirals out of control, the movie very carefully walks a tightrope where the characters are doing their best to maintain their stability until, eventually, all hell breaks loose and there is no turning back. Binoche would appear to be the most valuable player here and her turn is excellent, but it is Lindon who stuns viewers the most with his fierce, vulnerable performance that is absolutely among the best work the actor has ever done.

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That opening sequence of sensual, romantic happiness between the movie’s central characters, Sara (Binoche) and Jean (Lindon) is soon learned to be a facade. It appears everything is so perfect between them as they are together in the water and Jean is holding Sarah as she floats in a state of peacefulness. There is a past that these characters have and although they do seem to love and respect each other, their desires and/or expectations ultimately lead them down a road of uncertainty which could lead to at least one of these character’s downfall.

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A third main character enters greatly into the equation here. It is Francois (Gregoire Colin), who is Jean’s ex-business partner. He has feelings for Sara that are romantic in nature. This picture slowly builds tension as the character development unfolds. Late in the film when Francois and Sara do share a bed together, the question of the possibility of sexual relations between them seems to be unanswered by Sara’s own conscience. Francois, as a character, is the catalyst to the movie’s plot revelations which become disturbing in nature as the picture progresses.

This movie’s characters are very complex in nature, especially Sara’s and Jean’s, in particular. Jean is an ex-con who cannot simply react the way he normally would have given his checkered past. Jean’s response to the events that he learns of in the later scenes in the film fits the character to a tee. Sara, on the other hand, is not just simply looking for love or for sex in the picture, she is looking to make some sort of sense as to where she fits in and who she truly belongs with, for better or worse. She’s dealing with a piece to the larger puzzle of her life, if you will. She is trying to put the piece in the right spot.

I’ve never seen sex scenes as raw and authentic as the ones here. They are not meant to arouse viewers on a sexual level (although they could). Instead, these sequences serve to further demonstrate the complicated lives being lived by the people being portrayed in the film. I mentioned the scene where Francois and Sara go to bed together. For one character, sex is expected but for the other it is not so much. So, when, the scene develops, and characters make choices, it becomes interesting to see how these characters will react.

There are another two well developed supporting characters here as well. Issa Perica plays Jean’s multi-racial son, Marcus, who faces dilemmas of his own in terms of fitting in. When he reveals he wants to go to school to work in retail, his wishes seem to be a bit of a disappointment to others. However, Perica plays the confused character very well leading the audience to see him more humanly than other characters in the picture may initially view him. Bulle Ogier, as Nelly, Marcus’s grandmother also has some delicate scenes that are well orchestrated throughout Denis’ very multi-layered movie.

Fire is about a woman who is essentially playing with “fire” in the way she is exploring her personal life choices. There is no way she can make both of the men around her happy. It’s virtually impossible. Scratch that. It is impossible. Binoche has some fierce scenes that are among the best she has ever acted in and her moments opposite Lindon are like watching two masters in the art of acting at the top of their game. Colin more than holds his own beside them. We feel for Sara as she ultimately drops her cell phone in water to avoid making a choice that could alter her life forever. Lindon, so wonderful in Titane from last year, emerges as a sympathetic character here but even he has flaws that make the movie difficult to predict. The last scenes of the movie are very thought-provoking, to say the least.

Binoche’s Sara is playing with “both sides of the blade” in Fire. It’s clear she will get cut (or burnt) in the metaphoric sense. This movie is acted to perfection by Binoche and Lindon so despite the film’s slow-moving pace in the early scenes, it is highly recommended. You won’t know whose side you are on while watching it but when the credits roll, you’ll start to think very deeply about it, just as Denis intended. This movie will stay with you long after the conclusion.

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Rating: 8.5/10

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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