JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Fire of Love | All the Beauty and the Bloodshed | Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery | Close (Directors: Sara Dosa, Laura Poitras, Rian Johnson, Lukas Dhont) - March 14, 2023 id="543337086">

Fire of Love | All the Beauty and the Bloodshed | Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery | Close

4.5 4.5

A quartet of widely divergent films

Fire of Love
88 minutes
Sara Dosa
Four and one half stars

Curiosity is stronger than fear

How ironic that Dosa’s lovingly made film about an intimate pair of volcanologists (Katia and Maurice Kraftt) is released almost simultaneously with one of the worst earthquakes (in terms of loss of life) in Turkey/Syria. What both have in common is Mother Nature’s uncaring revenge when the planet’s normal eruptions and quakes need to occur.

Somewhat like hurricane followers, the Kraftts revel in, literally, going into the centre of the latest, greatest lava spill (red is mostly beautiful; gray can be deadly due to toxic gases) from Zaire to Mount Helena.

For neophyte viewers, there is much to learn about these awesome, life-changing spectacles (“all volcanoes are different”; imagine a canoe ride through the smouldering lava!).

No spoiler here (given away at the get-go), the purposely childless couple meet their steaming ends on my birthday in 1991. One can only imagine that that conclusion of life would well be worth the miracles of nature unfolding, lovingly filmed and documented by the unstinting, ever-curious couple.

Dosa (and especially her talented editors, Erin Casper, Jocelyne Chaput) have given the rest of us a marvellous journey into the bowels of planet earth. JWR

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
122 minutes
Laura Poitras
Four and one half stars

Why not profit from pain?

Here’s a bio-pic documentary that attempts to bring viewers into the life, art (largely photography) and rebelliousness of Nan Goldin. Full disclosure: I’d never heard of her until the opening frames—not surprising since my main beats are music and film.

With so much archival footage and direct interviews (to say the least), Poitras has crafted a compelling portrait of the sometime drug addict, prostitute but, most importantly, visual artist and social advocate that has little fear of sharing her life, work and experiences with anyone who cares to look.

The villains in the piece are the greedy Sackler family whose pharmaceutical business (Purdue Pharma) was mostly the result of providing opioids to all that, initially, needed them, then—soon addicted—couldn’t get enough (including Nan and her sister Barbara, the latter not having enough strength to live on…).

To assuage their guilt, the Sacklers began the habit of making huge donations to some of the world’s most respected art museums, even as the body counts continued then (and now) to rise from their company’s operations.

To fight back, Nan, in 2017, founded P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and has since participated (along with many, many, supporters) in Act Out demonstrations inside and on the steps of the planet’s major custodians of timeless art.

A side story ventures into the also “fluent” (good side and bad side) of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In just a small way, this excursion somewhat detracts from the film’s overall message: unbridled cash to relieve sorrow/pain is a scourge on Mother Earth that only Maga Republicans would cheer on.

Do take a look. JWR

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
139 minutes
Rian Johnson
Four stars

A very different sort of Sister Act

Anyone who enjoys ensemble murder mysteries such as Agatha Christie’s 10 Little Indians, will revel in Johnson’s imaginative tale about a host (Edward Norton as billionaire Miles Bron, CEO of Alpha) who predicts his own murder during a festive weekend with long-known friends on his exclusive island. Yet it’s the unexpected guest, renowned detective Benoit Blanc—think Hercule Poirot with a tan—who might well upset the applecart of sudden death and intrigue.

Bron’s guests are more associates than pals. Lionel Toussaint (Leslie Odom Jr.) Alpha’s head scientist working on a hydrogen-based alternative fuel, Klear, Connecticut governor Claire Denalla (Kathryn Hahn), fashion designer Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson), men’s rights streamer Duke Cody (Dave Bautista), and former Alpha co-founder Cassandra “Andi” Brand—it’s business, get it?—Janelle Monáe, who may or may not actually be dead on arrival.

Much of the early dialogue is a sparring match between the unflappable detective and his sudden host; the lines are drawn, let the games begin. And, to be sure, there is a murder, but it most certainly isn’t Bron. Au contraire…

The film’s biggest weakness is when the narrative (also Johnson) asks us to believe that his former “right-hand-woman” can be convincingly portrayed by her revenge-seeking sister, Helen (also Mondáe). Only one of the parties can know she is not possibly who she pretends to be. The other weakness is that, as smart as Blanc is, his final summation is more of a whimper than “j’accuse”.

All of this is under the watchful eye of the Louvre-loaned Mona Lisa, who, literally, can’t stand the heat by mystery’s end.

No worries. For most viewers this onion will be a welcome respite from all of the misery currently playing around the world, where it doesn’t take a savvy detective to know “Whodunit”. JWR

104 minutes
Lukas Dhont
One and one half stars

Two sisters

In every Academy Awards film season, there are a few nominations that only ask one question: why?

Here’s another. JWR

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