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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 25, 2017

QCinema Filmfest Foreign Film Entries More Worth Watching Than The Local Ones

WE’VE SEEN four of the local entries in the current QCinema Filmfest and none of them truly impressed us so we decided to spend our time with the foreign entries that are certainly more worth watching.

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER - This is from Greek director, Yorgos Lanthimos, who got nominated last year for Oscar best screenplay for “The Lobster”, which starred Colin Farrell. His new film now stars Colin again as a heart surgeon who befriends a young boy, Martin (Barry Keoghan), and right away, you could feel there’s a dark undertone between them. At first, you’d even think they have a nefarious relationship. But it turns out the boy is the son of a man who died while Colin is operating on him and he sort of pities the fatherless boy.

Colin is happily married to Nicole Kidman, an eye doctor, and they have a daughter and a son. When they have sex, Colin wants Nicole to pretend she’s under general anesthesia. Soon, both their kids get sick, their legs are paralyzed and they won’t eat at all. Martin tells Colin it’s justice, or karma. Colin took his dad and now, someone must die in his family for the curse to stop. The film becomes some sort of weird and perverse thriller at this point, with Martin appearing as something truly evil, making up stories between Colin and his mom (Alicia Silverstone, who appears in just one scene.)

The best way to look at the film is as an allegory and the script itself reminds us about this. Colin’s daughter has written an essay on Iphigenia, the daughter of Greek king Agamemnon who kills a sacred deer, invoking the wrath of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, who punishes him. The only way he can be forgiven is for him to sacrifice his own daughter, Iphigenia. Remember, the director is Greek so it’s not surprising that he uses Greek mythology as the starting point of his film which is about justice and the consequences of one’s actions. Colin finally makes an unthinkable choice and let’s see if you’d agree with him or not. We don’t. Some scenes are unnerving and difficult to sit through, but the acting of the whole cast is uniformly and consistently good, notably Colin (who made himself look older for the role), Nicole and the three kids.

“BPM (BEATS PER MINUTE)” is a French film whose title refers to the beating of the human heart. Director Robin Campillo focuses on the Paris branch of an AIDS activist group called ACT UP in the 1990s. It’ll remind of you other AIDS related films like “The Normal Heart”, “Longtime Companion” and “The Band Played On”. It has several characters like Thibault, the head of the group; Sophie, an energetic woman activist; Max, a teenager who got HIV throubh blood transfusion; but the most prominent characters are Sean (Nahuel Perez Biscayart), a small but terrible activist, and Nathan (Arnaud Valois), a hunky new recruit, whose love story is both funny and touching. The actions of the group are considered extreme by many quarters but the film shows the humanity of these activists who were just pushed against the wall.

“BEACH RATS” - Frankie (Harris Dickinson, who’s superb) is a restless 19-year old in Brooklyn going through a bad summer and struggling with his sexual identity. His dad is dying of cancer right in their living room and his mom is pushing him to have a girlfriend but he’s more interested in looking at the nude pics of guys on the internet and flirting with older men online. He hangs out with delinquent friends in a local cruising beach and also dates a young woman, Simone (Madeline Weinstein). The ending is somewhat “bitin” but somehow, you know things will be all right for Frankie.