Screening Room: ‘The Childhood of a Leader’

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In Brady Corbet’s debut film, an American diplomat in France at the end of World War I and his wife watch their son turn from spoiled brat into something far more sinister.

Childhood-website-posterThe Childhood of a Leader is playing now in limited release; check it out. My review is at PopMatters:

What if the greatest conflagration in modern human history was sparked not by grander forces but by the whims of one or more determined psychopaths? That’s the nerve-rattling, if hard-to-swallow, idea advanced by The Childhood of a Leader. The directorial debut of actor Brady Corbet, this tricky, frequently overpowering film is set in 1919, just after the end of the First World War. The weight of history couldn’t be any heavier…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Theaters: ‘The Past’

Berenice Bejo and Ali Mosaffa in 'The Past'
Berenice Bejo and Ali Mosaffa in ‘The Past’

thepast-posterLike the writer said, The past is never dead, it isn’t even past. In Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi’s newest drama, a French woman (Berenice Bejo, from The Artist) invites her ex-husband back from Iran supposedly to finalize their divorce only to ensnare him in her tangled new relationship.

The Past opened this week in limited release but should roll out around the country over the next couple months. My review is at Film Racket:

Asghar Farhadi’s powerful but unraveled film starts as a domestic drama and then shifts into a mystery. Strangely, the further it pushes the mystery angle, with secrets peeling off like onion skin from the knotted core of the past, the less engaging it becomes. Farhadi’s greatest strengths lie in the parsing of intra-family conflict, where expectations and resentments bubble all around like a musical score. He’s on less sure footing when it comes to building tension by way of soap-operatic revelation. But give the man a husband and wife and a kitchen sitting between them as though it were the battlefield of their lives, and he’s in his element…

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Pauline Burlet as the daughter caught between her battling parents in ‘The Past’

Here’s the trailer: