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Something of a week of contrasts, with new releases Fear Street Part Two and First Cow offering sadism and sensitivity respectively, while Out of Sight and BPM balance their romances with pulp fiction and a documentarian view of recent history.
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Fear Street Part Two: 1978 - Netflix
The second chapter of this trilogy of adaptations of RL Stine’s horror franchise doubles down on the gore from its surprisingly gruesome first instalment, recalling the sadistic streak of the slasher films it pays homage to.
That deference becomes frustrating at points however, as — just like in the first one — Fear Street piles up needle drops on top of one another to compensate for a somewhat shaky sense of place as well as tone. It’s marginally better than Part One because of its pulling from a genre with a campy history and does well to replicate the mean streak of trashy slashers like Friday the 13th, but still can’t help but feel like something of a pale imitation. Despite the gore and bloodshed, it somehow feels innocuous.
BPM (Beats Per Minute) - Netflix
Robin Campillo’s depiction of ACT UP Paris’s organised action feels genuinely revolutionary in the moment, committed to an almost documentarian observation and contextualisation of radical organisation, placing it within a broader history of queer politics, class politics and the history of the victims of AIDS, all swept under the rug by the French government and others worldwide and combated by pharmaceutical companies.
Campillo was himself part of ACT UP at this point in time, so his depiction of the minutiae of the deliberations and arguments and conversations that preceded their direct action are as involving as they are authentic. Its observation isn’t just documentarian however, with its emotional yet naturalistic sequences of romance and joy and its characters simply living, displays exactly what was and what still is at stake.
Also new on Netflix: Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Midsommar, Once Upon a Time In… Hollywood
First Cow - MUBI
The latest film from Kelly Reichardt, one of the finest working filmmakers in the US, First Cow returns the director to her preferred setting of the Pacific Northwest. It’s a heartbreaking and precisely told story of two friends who try to make a living by baking sweets with stolen milk in 19th century Oregon, as a loner and skilled cook Cookie (John Magaro) strikes up a bond with a Chinese immigrant King-Lu (Orion Lee), who is similarly seeking out fortune.
The two end up collaborating to start a business of baking “oily cakes” (doughnuts, basically), though it requires stealing milk from the local governor’s cow. The relationship between the two is deeply moving, and recalls her earlier film Old Joy in her sensitive and intimate depiction of male friendships, and the history of American rural working classes.
Also new on MUBI: Radiance
Out of Sight - BBC iPlayer
American indie cinema icon Steven Soderbergh has returned to the crime caper genre many times since Out of Sight, but the George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez-starring film remains a standout. This story of overconfident thieves and odd couple romance, follows Jack Foley (Clooney), a smooth-talking career criminal who breaks out of jail in order to commit one final heist. Along the way he bumps into the federal marshall Karen Sisco (Lopez), and a strange, combative (and frankly, really hot) romance begins between these two people on the opposite sides of the law.
Adapted from an Elmore Leonard story (watch out for Michael Keaton playing the same character he did in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown), Soderbergh’s dialogue is as sharp and funny as we’ve come to expect from the filmmaker, with simply legendary editing work from Anne V Coates to match it. It’s also just a supremely good heist caper, laying a lot of the groundwork for Soderbergh’s take on Ocean’s 11, which this is very close to in spirit. Out of Sight is as charming and sexy as it is visually accomplished, and is not one to be missed.
Also new on iPlayer: Into The Woods, Pride