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Venice 2021: Denis Villeneuve's 'Dune' Delivers on the Impossible

Dune Review

Denis Villeneuve specializes in delivering on the seemingly impossible. Over the last 10 years, he's made his English-language debut with one of the best thrillers of the last decade (Prisoners), given us one of the most satisfying-yet-confounding final shots in recent memory (Enemy), redefined how stressful traffic jams are (Sicario), expertly baked our noodles by cutting his sci-fi teeth on adapting Ted Chiang's cerebral short story "Story of Your Life" (Arrival), and given us a delayed sequel to one of the most beloved sci-fi epics and, against all odds, made it the original's equal if not superior (Blade Runner 2049). And yet, adapting Frank Herbert's famously sprawling (some might say tortuously impenetrable) epic sci-fi novel "Dune" may be his most ambitious undertaking to date – especially when considering the space saga previously defeated Jodorowsky and made David Lynch a very unhappy camper back in 1984, denouncing it as "a total failure."

Venice 2021: David Gordon Green's Horror Sequel 'Halloween Kills'

Halloween Kills Review

It's back to Haddonfield we go, where Michael Myers is still not done trick-or-treating… At the end of the 2018 update of Halloween, we left with three generations of the Strode family (Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak) as they escaped a burning home with the boogeyman trapped inside, burning to a crisp. Presumably. However, all of Laurie Strode's prepper plans were in vain, as "The Shape" only got his mask singed and didn't meet his demise. Let's cut to the chase: 2021's Halloween Kills is an almighty mixed bag that's ultimately more filler than killer. Director / writer David Gordon Green and his co-writers Danny McBride and Scott Teems clearly have a healthy appreciation for John Carpenter's source material but they still can’t conjure up a satisfying second installment to their planned horror trilogy.

Venice 2021: Edgar Wright's London Horror Film 'Last Night in Soho'

Last Night in Soho Review

Nearly a year after it originally was due to be released, Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho finally makes its bow playing in the Out of Competition section at the 2021 Venice Film Festival. Thomasin Mackenzie stars as Eloise, a budding modern-day fashion student who moves from Cornwall to London; there, she is quickly ostracized by her chic "gap yaaah" London College of Fashion peers who cruelly label her "code beige". Fleeing student housing and finding a bedsit rented to her by the kind-but-no-nonsense Miss Collins (the late Diana Rigg, to whom the film is dedicated), she is soon dreamily transported back to 60s Soho. During these lucid nocturnal trips, she meets what seems to be her suppressed id / alter-ego, Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), a confident singer starting a relationship with smooth bequiffed operator Jack (Matt Smith), who promises to help her achieve cabaret stardom. But the barriers separating past and present soon begin to collapse and the glamorous feel of a time that Eloise idolises starts to open some much darker doors.

Review: Céline Sciamma's Radiant Romance 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

I had the misfortune of missing out on this year's Cannes Film Festival, and while I usually prefer Berlinale's chilly pleasures and the Mostra's replenishing sunshine, this year's roster made me think twice about my life choices. Thankfully, during a recent trip to Lyon, I got to catch several films during their French theatrical releases and during special Cannes retrospective screenings. It was during one of these screenings that I got to catch up with French filmmaker Céline Sciamma's fourth feature film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a breathtaking tour de force that is as mesmerizing on a stylistic level as it is rewarding on an emotional one.

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