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The Souvenir

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  • Original title: The Souvenir
  • Director: Joanna Hogg
  • Release year: 2019
  • Original language: English

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Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is an aspiring filmmaker hungry for a deeper understanding of the world and its maladies. Fighting against telling her own story onscreen, she dives into the fictional tale of a working class boy obsessed with his mother, in a film that takes place in Sutherland, the striking opposite of her Harrods-facing Knightsbridge flat. The young woman is hyper-aware of the bubble she was raised in, one she desperately tries to break from, while still making the most of her entitled life by hosting house parties and having expensive dinners on some of the most prestigious places in London.

The journey of the protagonist is suddenly shaken by the arrival of Anthony (Tom Burke), an older man whose previous military career and current Foreign Office position grant him a worldly aura that easily draws Julie in. Their fresh romance unravels at the fast pace of a first love and soon Julie is saying goodbye to her flatmates and welcoming her beloved in. Anthony arrogantly talks her down, sending Julie into a spiral of self-doubt she struggles to escape from. Their toxic relationship exposes the young woman to a myriad of painful feelings her favoured life had sheltered her from. Both the apartment and Julie are rapidly submitted to the wreckage of Anthony’s unpredictable behaviour, scarred by the growing tension in their relationship.

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Boyle, Tarantino and the beauty of the ‘could have been’

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Alert: major spoilers ahead!

In July, Danny Boyle’s latest film Yesterday hit British cinemas with a simple premise: a world without The Beatles. The film made the most out of the idea of this parallel reality by bringing to the viewers a scene in which the main character, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), gets to meet John Lennon, well and alive and, enjoying a tranquil life by the sea. 

Quentin Tarantino’s newest project, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, also utilises film to propose a different ending to a well-known real-life event. The director twists the heart-breaking Tate Murders of 1969,  by bringing a completely different massacre to the screen. 

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Vox Lux

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  • Original title: Vox Lux
  • Director: Brady Corbet
  • Release year: 2018
  • Original language: English

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The sequence at the early start of Vox Lux is one unfortunately too familiar. One disturbed student enters a classroom with a gun in hand and nothing but hatred in mind. One of the bullets fired on the day lodged itself in the spine of young Celeste, who was turned into a symbol for the grieving community. Her voice, in the form of a touching song, sends the girl into the eye of the media hurricane. A beat later and Celeste has an agent and a record label, travelling around the world with her older sister, carefully planning every step of her then early career.

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Jon S. Baird and the importance of the final scene

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At first glance, there are not many similarities between the last two features directed by Scottish filmmaker Jon S. Baird. Whilst 2013’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Filth thrives on its ability to turn one’s stomach, 2018’s biopic Stan and Ollie is a sweet ode to the iconic duo Laurel and Hardy.

Their one – and strongest – similarity is the beauty of their final scenes. Baird skillfully approaches the concept of finality in two drastically different but equally effective ways. The final moments of Filth see Bruce “Robbo” Robertson about to end his life. Seconds before he lets go of his body towards hanging from the ceiling, he spots a glimpse of a new future in the shape of the silhouette of a woman whose deceased husband he tried to save. Her shadow, accompanied by her infant son, disappears from the semi-transparent doors as we all see Bruce’s neck snap, suddenly ending his twisted, painful existence. The lesson here could not be any clearer: there are no happy endings and love is a bittersweet illusion, not salvation.

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On The Basis of Sex

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  • Original title: On The Basis of Sex
  • Director: Mimi Leder
  • Release year: 2018
  • Original language: English

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Unarguably one the most important figures when it comes to gender equality and women’s rights, US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s has been part of popular American culture for years (she is widely known by youngsters on social media as “Notorious RBG”). Mimi Leder’s new feature, On The Basis of Sex explores the early days of Ginsberg’s career and fight against gender discrimination.

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