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La grande illusion

Cinema Omnivore - La grande illusion (1937) 8.5/10
"It may sound like an archetypal springing-from-the-prison adventurer, but Renoir's intention is anything but middlebrow. For starters, LA GRANDE ILLUSION has a measured, even carefree pace that nothing barbaric or nasty can wrong-foot, the brutality of war is supplanted by a dignified edge exuded from the warring parties' comportments, courtesy persists as well as superficial amity. The camp is more like a commune, you eat well, practice physical labor in the day and participate in a vaudeville in the evening, although you are not allowed to leave (you will be shot on spot), but if you want to dig a covert tunnel from your quarters after the roll call during the night, chances are you will not be bothered."

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Slums of Beverly Hills

Cinema Omnivore - Slums of Beverly Hills (1998) 6.8/10
"Their living condition improves when Mickey's daughter Rita (Tomei) escapes from a rehab facility and stays with the family, under the pretext of Rita attending a nursing school, the family secures more subsidies from Mickey. But Rita is a loose cannon, a 15-year-old Vivian cannot keep her in check, plus she has her own teen angst to deal with, like the nascent uncomfortableness towards her growing breasts and the anxiety/curiosity of losing her virginity to Eliot (Corrigan), a 20-something lad wearing a Charlie Manson T-shirt."

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But I'm a Cheerleader

Cinema Omnivore - But I'm a Cheerleader (1999) 7.1/10
"Truly, Babbit's enormously funny satire has more leanings in lampooning the heteronormative insularity and the society's benighted mindset of judging by stereotypes than in laying it on thick to fight against homophobia. Rounding up a miscellany of sexually ambiguous prototypes (Jewish, Asian, Hispanic, Black, jock, sissy, goth and tomboy, Babbit has a bent for diversity way earlier than it becomes a norm), the story meanders through the therapy's five-step program, under the clutches of Mary Brown (Moriarty, the throaty-voiced schoolmarm in shocking pink) and her assistant, the ex-gay Mike (the one and only RuPaul, obliviously ogling the fine specimen of Eddie Cibrian), and its garish confection of pink and blue (denoting the gender dichotomy) is a pre-Candy Crush doozy. Just like Jenkins, Babbit's feminine disposition calls the shot here, and we are all grateful to that."

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The White Tiger

Cinema Omnivore - The White Tiger (2021) 7.0/10
"The movie's tone also takes a sharp turn after Balram is wrong-footed by the reveal of Ashok and Pinky's true color, the prior playful, carefree vibes are supplanted by a menacing, subdued gloom that bodes ill, once Balram's a-rooster-escaping-from-its-coop resolution settles in, there is no turning back of the imminent bloodletting, but when that occurs, three quarters of the film's running time has elapsed, which inevitably, foreshortens Balram's ascension to be the owner of a taxi company in Bangalore, therefore takes some credibility out of this cautionary tale, as if venality alone can work the magic of actualization an "Indian dream". That said, Gourav is such an extraordinarily multifaceted performer, he can alternate between being smarmy, wide-eyed, indignant, hurt, world-savvy or callous at a moment's notice, and when he beams, his open-faced smile is infectious, yet deep in your heart, you know you cannot trust that smile."

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Cinema Omnivore - Things to Come (2016) 8.1/10
"But you never know what comes tomorrow, life can throw you a curveball without much of a warning, after bereavement and the sudden dissolution of her marriage, Nathalie is surprised to find new freedom in this stage of her life, and fends off the existential crisis by exploring something new, like paying a visit to the countryside commune resided by her favorite former-student Fabien (Kolinka), and is not offended by their different ideology, or taking care of Yvette's black cat Pandora despite of her self-claimed allergy. Nathalie's adjustment of life's undertow sets up a good example, her spiritual life is so enriched that if you think carnal knowledge is the go-to sop to her, you are wide of the mark."

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A Quiet Place Part II

Cinema Omnivore - A Quiet Place Part II (2020) 6.7/10
"First thing first, Krasinski has a clear mind not to stretch the movie's scale or ambition, the narrative developments are baby steps and Part III is definitely on the drawing board. Instead, he and his teams homes in on devising the set pieces, they're routine scares, actions and twists, but work just fine, if you watch the film in the cinema, it does remind you why cinema-going is a unique experience. Munificent CGI-effects are poured into actualizing the images and motions of the gnarly, snarling creatures, which is a major upgrade from its predecessor."

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Nightmare Alley

Cinema Omnivore - Nightmare Alley (1947) 7.9/10
"Failed to meet a triumphant turnout in audience number in its initial release, NIGHTMARE ALLEY's reputation enjoys a late surge perhaps because modern audience is more susceptible to its judicious message under the noir ambience, its nostalgic carny backdrop (with a fire-breather, but unfortunately, the scenes with a live-chick-gorging geek are too disturbing to be shown!) and Power's rivetingly transmuted performance, Stan is the paradigm of all-American phoniness, Power makes his suspect nature an amenity, and he is so self-aware of every word he utters, that even the deceitful blarney which no one can credit today sounds deliberately plausible. Power also hits home in Stan's final transformation into a beaten saddo, his years-adding make-up may look low-grade, but the despondence exuded from his eyes is the clincher, you believe Stan's downfall wholeheartedly."

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Su Zhou he

Cinema Omnivore - Suzhou River (2000) 7.8/10
"SUZHOU RIVER is a wonderment, bristling with frenzies wrought by a hand-held camera, the crisply edited montages of riparian denizens and passers-by, a mermaid fairy-tale and most prominently, a subjective POV of an unnamed videographer, a flâneur whose face is never shown, and whose voice-over channels you into the love imbroglio, Mardar (Jia), a courier on motorcycle, crosses his path with Mudan (Zhou), the ponytailed daughter of a rich businessman, they fall in love, but deception ensues, Mudan is devastated and jumps into the Suzhou river and is never found again. Years later, an out-of-the-slammer Mardar returns and finds Mudan's doppelgänger in Meimei (Zhou), the videographer's girlfriend, is Meimei and Mudan the same person? And can Mardar have a second chance to redress his mistake? Or will the doomed lovers motif prevail again?"

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Shap yee yeh

Cinema Omnivore - Twelve Nights (2000) 6.2/10
"Even as fictional characters, Jeannie and Alan are devoid of personalities, or singularities to engage us, they're two ordinary people with their very common foibles, Alan's paternalistic, sexist view on woman is excruciatingly dated and exasperating, ergo, you might steadfastly rally behind Jeanine, which leaves Lam's strenuous unpicking of a modern relationship moot. You see, Alan is a chauvinistic pig, Jeannie deserves better, as a result, everything goes against Lam's supposedly it-takes-two-to-tango supposition (she is a silly girl who takes fortune telling as read.)"

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Cinema Omnivore - Enforcement (2020) 6.7/10
"ENFORCEMENT falls by the wayside when the good cop Jens is subjected to a fatal mistake, so as to pull through the about-face plot device and obscure the two cops' apparent discrepancy. Only the director-duo's tactic has no flair, it is leaden and arbitrary (like the coincidence-and-inexplicability-riddled plot), and a deal-breaking failing is that Muslims are treated as black-or-white ciphers (the radical rascals versus the good-hearted innocents), Hviid and Ølholm fails to fashion anything even remotely intelligent from the Muslim's point of view, exactly because of their own white privilege, this is their blind spot. The film may sound and look like an inspiring story against racism, but it is tired and jaundiced, pandering to white Danes and not doing right by the ethnic group. Again, diversity should be enforced within every and each position of the business, otherwise, it is reduced to tokenism."

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Love Letter

Cinema Omnivore - Love Letter (1995) 7.7/10
"Playing the dual roles of Hiroko and the female Itsuki, pop singer Nakayama nicely incorporates temperamental shadings into her characters without resorting to an exterior makeover. Hiroko and Itsuki are dead ringers, which is the fulcrum of the entire story, obliviously Hiroko becomes a substitute of Itsuki, she and the male Itsuki is not struck by a coup de foudre, at least not for him, it is this discovery that ultimately sets her free, so she can reciprocate the affection from Akiba Shigeru (Toyokawa), the man who wants to take care of her for the rest of their lives. Toyokawa is all charm, levity and alacrity, his Akiba is a perfect foil to bolster Nakayama's ethereal Hiroko."

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Cinema Omnivore - Lola (1981) 8.2/10
"Fassbinder has no scruples to satirize the ever scandalous falling-in-love-with-a-prostitute trope, and he does so with flair and tongue-in-cheek irreverence, when the dust settled, things are miraculously squared away, the status quo remains, even Von Bohm is made the co-owner of the brothel, how about that? Stiff morality is frown upon, and Lola gets what she wants, so fully and exuberantly embodied by Sukowa, she radiates with an aura of her Teutonic fiber, bedazzled by veils, furs, earrings and organdies. Subversively, Sukowa's Lola is nothing if not inviolable, a true Fassbinder heroine head and shoulders above her seedy milieu. So in the end of the day, you don't feel sorry for Von Bohm, who is astutely and vigorously portrayed Mueller-Stahl, but give him your blessings, their union is a godsend. Also, a squirrel-like Helga Feddersen (wearing a pair of high heels with contrasting colors, how avant garde!) is a lollapalooza as Von Bohm's secretary Miss Hettich, hilarious without self-consciousness, the role in a cliché but Feddersen is a comedienne on steroids."

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Cinema Omnivore - Lola (1961) 7.8/10
"Meantime, Demy nimbly orchestrates secondary plots around, Roland crossing path with a widow and her teenage daughter (Labourdette magnificently telegraphs the widow's disillusion and perturbation without making her a ridicule) can be read as a deja vu of his past with Lola, and Cécile (Dupéroux), the 13-year-old daughter (who shares the same name of Lola), has a La Ronde style encounter with Frankie (yes, Demy's LOLA is an open tribute to Max Ophüls), whose pending departure leaves something indelible in her impressionable soul, a cyclical pattern perpetuates."

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The Chalk Garden

Cinema Omnivore - The Chalk Garden (1964) 7.6/10
"When all is said and done, it is always the thespianism that enraptures you in films like this, Kerr, after Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS (1961), once again plays a governess who comes to rescue her disturbed charges, but here she is more stolid, guarded, even hostile in the beginning, Miss Madrigal's secret is hers to keep, and her smile only materializes belatedly, after she discerns Laurel's true self, and when the chips are down, her effusion is palpably affecting, yet not fervid enough to be hammy, Kerr is an actor's actor whom you can always bank on for her uncanny sensibility, she knows her character's boundary and within which she acquits herself swimmingly."

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The Day the Earth Stood Still

Cinema Omnivore - The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 7.4/10
"Wise's efficiency in execution cannot save the story's didactic tenor, but whenever Patricia Neal is on the screen, her demure, warm appearance produces a soothing effect on you, and the amicable relation between her Helen Benson and Klaatu starts to become the prime mover of one's last faith in humanity, it is people exemplified by Helen and the conscientious scientist Professor Barnhardt (Jaffe, sporting Einstein-like frizzed pelt) that represents our redemption and touches Klaatu, whose advent, death and resurrection is none-too-subtle to imply a religious influence. But are we living in a millenarian time? Unfortunately, our untoward reality begs to differ."

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The Woman in the Window

Cinema Omnivore - The Woman in the Window (2021) 6.4/10
"Set up as a single-location thriller, patterning over Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW (1954), the film asks our housebound heroine Anna Fox (Adams), a child psychiatrist, to play amateur sleuth, after she chances upon witnessing a murder across the street. For one thing, director Joe Wright (whose career is on a slippery slope) maxes out the limited spatiality to pleasingly chromatic effects, the whole movie boasts a sleek sheen which dazzles while the plot either meanders or skitters, and informs you where its money is spent (other than the paycheck for its stellar cast). Oddly, the ambience is ambivalent, the murderous intention or act has no threatening air, as if what you are watching is a prestige drama of a woman fighting for her sanity, and the reveal of the killer is hurried and he is such a featherweight menace to cow even a beaten woman like Anna, and the rickety rooftop has already suggested his slipshod downfall."


Cinema Omnivore - Incendies (2010) 7.9/10
"The narrative bifurcates and alternates between Nawal's checkered past in her war-riddled fatherland (an unnamed country, but the events alluding to Lebanese Civil War, and her actions take a leaf from the book of a Lebanese woman Souha Bechara), and decades later, the twins' journey (Jeanne goes first and Simon will join her later) to their provenance, to discover the inconceivable story of their parentage. As an audience, you are granted an advantage of first-hand information from Nawal's POV, while the twins slavishly track down breadcrumbs, gather details in dribs and drabs, so the film hooks you by this tack, you are one step ahead in the game, until the riddle is solved, you are in utter shock, like the twins. If you think finding out they are the offspring of a rapist is a major hammer blow, you are too naive!"

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Cinema Omnivore - Polytechnique (2009) 7.3/10
"Valérie (Vanasse) is one of the fortunate survivors of the ordeal (does she suffers from the survivor's guilt?), and before that, she has a first taste of working-place sexism when she is interviewed for an internship, and her classmate Jean-François (Huberdeau) is also on the spot, being the stronger sex, he is spared by the killer with other males, but he seems to be the only one who shows some valor when all hell breaks loose. And after the fact, he is tormented by mounting guilt that he hadn't done more to prevent the mass killing (a typical messiah complex), whose ramifications are immeasurably grave, varying from individual to individual."

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La Reine Margot

Cinema Omnivore - Queen Margot (1994) 7.5/10
"For my money, the biggest takeaway from Chéreau's adaptation is his honoring of an unalloyed form of love that transcends genders and denominations, it is a liminal feeling of warmth, of appreciation, of kindness, which writs large between Charles and Henri, their agape blossoms under the most peculiar circumstances, but it is so earnest that they might pinch themselves to believe it. It is out of Charles' sheer altruism that Henri could eventually get out of harm's way, after the former hears his death knell peal. Au fond, Charles saves Henri's life with his own, and as a king notably for hypochondria, he doesn't regret it. The same is La Môle's devotion to Margot, he would die for her without blinking an eye, and she keeps her promise however macabre it seems. In a story peopled with bloodletting, divination, poisoning and hog-hunting, Chéreau is perceptive enough to know what can connect with the modern audience, the raw, intense human affection."

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Hotaru no haka

Cinema Omnivore - Grave of the Fireflies (1988) 8.4/10
"If the plot is a poverty porn of the highest water, viz. Young kids suffer and wither in privation, Takahata magnificently tones down the tragedy with episodes of poetry and reminiscences, even happiness (however fleeting it is), using firefly as a metaphor for evanescent lives, the whole film suffuses with exceptionally tender moments and picturesque illustrations that have been scarcely rivaled ever since. That is the simplicity and beauty of cel animation, I would even prefer this to Hayao Miyazaki's MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, released in the same year, not because of its technique, but of how Takahata leavens a lachrymose text with adroit considerations, especially those concerning Setsuko, her declining process is depicted with such insuperable felicity (a fruit drop can leave you feel pulverized), everything can be tactlessly fell into mawkishness or ickiness, but GRAVES OF THE FIREFLIES lends its feet victoriously in the end."

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Cinema Omnivore - Josep (2020) 6.8/10
"Not shying away from the horrendous acts, scenarist Jean-Louis Milesi also tries to squeeze levity and sensuousness into this tale of woe, even conjures up Frida Kahlo into Josep's fantasy, to whom he will be romantically linked years later in Mexico. But told in dribs and drabs, the narrative doesn't amp up appreciable emotional impact, Bartolí is chummy, but no character for us to empathize with. And mingled with a frame story where an old Serge, on his deathbed, inculcates his modern-day grandson to carry on with his memory, JOSEP consciously wears its heart on its sleeve, but what is remarkable about it?"

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Cinema Omnivore - Jabberwocky (1977) 7.1/10
"An intermittently grisly, but steadily risible satire of the knight errant adventure, a brave young man slaughters a havoc-wreaking monster, then marries the princess happily ever after. That is the gist, but our prince charming is the antithesis of a knight in shining armor, Dennis Cooper (Palin), whose family name also suggests his profession, is a namby-pamby. He has bent for efficiency and pragmatism (consequently is hit out and disinherited by his father on his deathbed for not valuing craft above everything else, a funny, totally gonzo outpourings from Paul Curran who plays his father) which goes largely unappreciated or even triggers mayhem, carries a torch for a corn-fed girl-next-door Griselda Fishfinger (Badland), and is not really enjoying being taken by the wishful thinking princess (Fallender). But life is so unfair, how can he refuse a king's fiat after claims himself as the kingdom savior and is bestowed half of the kingdom and hand-fast to the comely princess?"

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La llorona

Cinema Omnivore - La Llorona (2019) 6.7/10
"Only the intermittent horror elements creep on you with some visual potency, and Bustamante's sleek zooming-out technique bears out his sleight of hand. Also stands out is the presence of María Mercedes Coroy, the young indigenous heroine in IXCANUL, here she plays Alma, the new maid of obscure provenance, whose appearance startles Enrique and slowly renders him addlepated. Alma is an enigmatic entity, and Coroy shows that she has a mission to achieve but emotionally she is null, her Llorona is not scary, not even threatening, revenge is a dish better served cold, so she is plumb gelid, and so will be the guilty one."

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Sin señas particulares

Cinema Omnivore - Identifying Features (2020) 7.3/10
"Valadez proves herself that she has snap in her formulation, yet IDENTIFYING FEATURES is hindered by a far-fetched coda, designed to shock and awe (there is no logic to connect the actions), but it doesn't sit well with the film's precedent tonality and in particular, Magdalena's fortitude, whom Hernández consistently portrays with profuse sympathy to spare. In the end, Magdalena's effort feels squandered, if evil can simply crop up apropos of nothing, the weight of her journey is dissipated since hitherto locality has been the kernel of Valadez's construct, the disjuncture between style and form is a common contretemps for a new director, it leaves a bathetic feeling, nonetheless, we should still give a shout-out to Valadez for making a statement on her own terms."

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Ivan Groznyy. Skaz vtoroy: Boyarskiy zagovor

Cinema Omnivore - Ivan the Terrible, Part II (1958) 8.2/10
"Performance-wise, the cast is superb, despite their method is obsolete. An aquiline Nikolay Cherkasov reigns over the titular role with both flair and variation, his Ivan isn't defined merely by "terrible", if you get the preconception that Ivan is a despot, which the films certainly do not concur with, Ivan is an orphan with a grudge, he is ruthless, nearly paranoid, but before that, he has also been consumed by loneliness, betrayal and bereavement (the allegiance test when he is apparently in extremis is a high point in Part I), Cherkasov downplays Ivan's menace, but highlights his self-importance and grandstanding comportment, and on a minor note of the heavy makeup, how funny his mustache seems to grow out of his nostrils."

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