Review of reviews: Film
Beauty and the Beast
Directed by Bill Condon (PG)
A tale as old as time, freshly polished
Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast is “more than a flesh-andblood revival of the 26-yearold cartoon,” said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. The underlying fairy tale—about an imprisoned woman who falls in love with her beast captor—has had many of its problematic aspects softened. Belle has more agency, and the Beast is literate enough that he bonds with Belle over a love of books. Better yet, the film “looks good, moves gracefully, and leaves an invigorating aftertaste. I think the name for it is joy.” Unfortunately, this Beauty is “a movie that can’t quite figure out what it wants to say that it didn’t already say back in 1991,” said Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly. Yes, Emma Watson proves “a madeto- order Disney heroine”—even able to sell a song despite her inexperience in musicals. But because we’ve seen all the magical moments before, “they’re just not that transporting.” Visually, the big moments might be too transporting, said Stephanie Zacharek in Time. When the dishes, flatware, and other household objects in the Beast’s castle get their big musical number, the “syncopated madness” can be “a little overwhelming.” But that’s the movie’s charm. Everything in it is “larger than life”—like a 1960s Hollywood musical.
Directed by Julia Ducournau (R)
A college newbie develops a taste for flesh.
“Breathless hype can twist a movie’s reputation in ways both apt and misleading,” said Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times. If you’ve heard about this French-language horror thriller, you probably already know that its cannibalism caused fainting spells at festival screenings. But to emphasize Raw’s grisliness “would undersell its achievement.” It’s “a total grossout,” but “it’s also a delicacy.” Garance Marillier stars as Justine, a virginal vegetarian who arrives at a veterinary college unprepared for the hazing rituals, which include getting doused with blood at an orgiastic party and being forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney. As Justine’s revul-sion gives way to new cravings, writer-director Julia Ducournau proves adept at black comedy “but much less attuned to logic,” said Mark Jenkins in NPR.org. “Raw is transgressive in that selfconscious, even sanctimonious, Gallic way. Narratively and thematically, it’s undercooked.” Justine has an older sister as a guide, though, and the dynamics of mentoring at once bond the two and pull them apart, said Emily Yoshida in NYMag.com. In the film’s most disturbing conceit, Justine is cast not as a monster but as an innocent maturing into self-loathing. “She’s watching her own descent into animalism just as helplessly as we are.”
Directed by Danny Boyle (R)
The lads reunite in middle age.
“Why go back?” asked Robbie Collin in The Telegraph (U.K.). This sequel of a landmark 1996 British comedy about four Edinburgh junkies proves “worthwhile on its own terms” because it knows that grappling with the past and with failed aspirations is part of every life. Director Danny Boyle has reassembled the whole crew—Sick Boy, Rent Boy, Spud, Begbie—and though T2 won’t re-energize British cinema the way Trainspotting did, it has the same scuzzy look, and like the original it’s “happy enough spending time with its characters whatever they get up to.” They’re best when doing coke or heroin again, said Mike Laws in The Village Voice. But that covers just two scenes. Otherwise, Ewan McGregor’s Renton is back in town trying to make amends for ripping off his mates years ago, and Robert Carlyle’s Begbie is just out of prison and bent on revenge. The two stories don’t mesh—a big reason why T2 feels like “nothing more than a two-hour advertisement for itself.” Still, the sequel “has the same punchy energy, the same defiant pessimism,” said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian (U.K.). It isn’t on a par with the first, but it’s “everything I could reasonably have hoped for.”
Disney, Focus World, CTMG, Inc. ■