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On this page: CUB | EDEN

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last update 26.Jul.15
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3.5/5   Welp
dir Jonas Govaerts
prd Peter De Maegd
scr Roel Mondelaers, Jonas Govaerts
with Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Stef Aerts, Titus De Voogdt, Jan Hammenecker, Gill Eeckelaert, Noa Tambwe Kabati, Louis Lemmens, Jean-Michel Balthazar, Ymanol Perset, Nabil Missoumi, Thomas De Smet, Isah De Zutter
luijten and de voogdt
release Bel 29.Oct.14,
US Apr.15 nff, UK 31.Jul.15
14/Belgium 1h24

london film festival
Cub A rare horror movie that actually takes the time to build up some suspense, this Belgian scouting romp has a great sense of humour about itself even as it gets increasingly nasty. Cleverly shot and very strongly performed, it's engaging and seriously unnerving, even if it feels a bit uneven.

Leaders Peter, Kris and Jasmijn (Aerts, De Voogdt and Bosmans) and fellow leader are taking their den of Cub Scouts camping in the countryside, using a recent news report to spin a tale about a werewolf boy and make the trip more exciting. All three are nervous about offbeat kid Sam (Luijten), and when they get into the wilderness, Sam actually finds the feral boy (Eeckelaert) living with a man (Hammenecker) who has booby trapped the woods. So while tension within the pack is bad, it's nothing compared to the threat lurking in the dark.

Director-cowriter Govaerts takes his time setting things up, letting the characters' personalities come through while dropping constant hints that build a gnawing sense of dread. The film is shot with a jolt of humour and a lot of attitude, especially from Peter, a cocky alpha-male who challenges Kris at every turn, flirts shamelessly with Jasmijn and makes frequent shows of his authority over the boys. Far more than any werewolf boy, Peter is Sam's real nightmare.

Luijten plays Sam as a quietly strong kid who takes things as they come without jumping to conclusions, which allows him to befriend this wild stranger. He also does a great job of conveying the feelings of a child who is constantly misunderstood. Aerts' bullying Peter is the perfect nemesis for him, as is Katabi's David, the harsh head scout. De Voogdt and Bosmans bring a lot more understanding, as does the likeably loose Lemmens as Sam's only friend Dries. Frustratingly, Eeckelaert is never allowed to make the wolf-boy a coherent character.

As this camping trip gets darker and darker, the violence becomes horrifying, especially since Govaerts creates such a vivid sense of young boys who are in real danger. The filmmaker's one mistake is to make Hammenecker's monstrous villain supernaturally able to recover even from any attack, because otherwise the movie's main strength is its grounding in the real world. That and a willingness to find genuine ways to freak the audience out without relying on the usual cheap tricks.

15 themes, language, violence
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dir Mia Hansen-Love
prd Charles Gillibert
scr Mia Hansen-Love, Sven Hansen-Love
with Felix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Hugo Conzelmann, Roman Kolinka, Greta Gerwig, Golshifteh Farahani, Arsinee Khanjian, Laura Smet, Vincent Lacoste, Arnaud Azoulay, Brady Corbet
de givry and etienne release Fr 19.Nov.14,
US 19.Jun.15, UK 24.Jul.15
14/France 2h11

london film festival
Eden Beautifully shot and acted, this film traces the career of a real-life DJ who pioneered garage music in 1990s France. The music and atmosphere are strikingly re-created, but the film never cracks the surface. Scenes are choppy, characters undefined and it's very difficult to find any point of resonance.

In the early 1990s, Paul Vallee (de Givrey) and his friend Stan (Conzelmann) form the DJ duo Cheers, with a popular "French touch" that sparks friendly rivalry with pals Thomas and Guy-Man (Lacoste and Azoulay), who call themselves Daft Punk. As Cheers becomes a fixture on the club scene, most of Paul's earnings vanish in his drug habit, forcing him to ask his mother (Khanjian) for help. And he seems unbothered about a succession of girlfriends (including Gerwig, Etienne, Smet and Farahani) until he realises his friends have grown up without him.

Filmmaker Hansen-Love beautifully captures the period, creating scenes that feel earthy and realistic. So it's odd that the film feels so disconnected. Paul's story never develops any momentum, as he drifts along enjoying the music and neglecting his personal life. Strangely, his cocaine use seems to have no effect on him; the problem is that he gives all his attention to the music.

The actors are earthy and natural, delivering offhanded dialog with plenty of personality. But not one character is defined, and aside from their hairstyles no one ages even though the film spans 22 years. At the centre, de Givry gives an engaging performance even if there's nothing about Paul that catches our sympathies. Despite being such an apparent innovator, he seems utterly passive in his life, letting everything drift by until he begins to notice that he's been left behind.

This is so understated that it doesn't qualify as a message in the narrative. Like in real life, people come and go around Paul without any proper resolution. He never seems terribly bothered by a break-up or spat, and continually reconnects with old friends and lovers without any sense of recurring emotion. This is because there's never much of a spark to begin with, and no hint of palpable passion for either a person or a musical track. So the entire film plays through the muted haze of a mellow high, pulsing repetitively like one of Paul's dance-club tracks and then fading out to become a tune we can barely remember.

15 themes, language, drugs, sexuality
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13 Minutes
3/5   Elser
dir Oliver Hirschbiegel
scr Leonie-Claire Breinersdorfer, Fred Breinersdorfer
prd Boris Ausserer, Fred Breinersdorfer, Oliver Schundler
with Christian Friedel, Katharina Schuttler, Burghart Klaussner, Johann von Bulow, Felix Eitner, David Zimmerschied, Rudiger Klink, Simon Licht, Cornelia Kondgen, Martin Maria Abram, Michael Kranz, Gerti Drassl
klaussner and friedel release Ger 9.Apr.15,
UK 17.Jul.15
15/Germany 1h54

edinburgh film festival
13 Minutes A terrific true Nazi-era story is rendered lifeless by a script that needlessly fragments the narrative. Perhaps there's a point to this if the events are well-known in Germany, but this beautifully shot and acted film stubbornly refuses to generate any tension, opting instead for dark drama and murky motivations.

Just 13 minutes after Adolf Hitler delivered a 1939 speech in Munich, his lectern explodes. Georg Esler (Friedel) is arrested that evening, claiming he planned the bombing all on his own. The leaders don't believe him, ordering police chief Neve (Klaussner) and Gestapo head Muller (von Bulow) to use whatever methods they can to get to the truth. Locked up and tortured, Georg remembers the years leading up to this, including his anti-Nazi sympathies, his persecuted pal Josef (Zimmerschied) and his love for Elsa (Schuttler), married to a brutish lout (Klink).

After starting the story with the explosion, the film flickers back and forth between Esler's brutal interrogation and his previous six years as a musician, carpenter, clockmaker and steelworker, skills that combine perfectly for bomb-making. Told in flashback so it carries no surprises, the earlier events create a sharp picture of how Nazis transformed society step by horrible step after their initial electoral victory. In the post-bombing storyline, the only uncertainty is when the Nazis will execute him.

Director Hirschbiegel has had a wobbly career since his masterful 2004 drama Downfall (don't mention The Invasion or Diana), so it's no surprise that he returns to World War II here. This film is packed with big dramatic events, even as emotional involvement is undermined by the screenplay's fragmented structure. And while Friedel plays Esler as engagingly offbeat, it's difficult to go along with his anarchic way of looking at the world, from stealing another man's wife (even if she's being abused) to ignoring her so he can plot his secret attack.

The terrific actors avoid the Hollywood starriness of similar stories like Valkyrie to create nuanced characters. Most intriguing are Klaussner and von Bulow, who play German officials who are observant and driven, respectively. While never quite sympathetic, it's eerily easy to understand the positions these men are in and how they think. Their frustration and brutality are darkly recognisable in an era of "enhanced interrogation" techniques. And this gives the film a kick that makes the historical event strongly relevant today.

15 themes, language, grisly violence
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The Treatment
4.5/5   MUST must see SEE   De Behandeling
dir Hans Herbots
scr Carl Joos
prd Peter Bouckaert
with Geert Van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts, Johan van Assche, Dominique Van Malder, Laura Verlinden, Roel Swaenenberg, Kyan Steverlynck, Ingrid De Vos, Michael Vergauwen, Circe Lethem, Brit Van Hoof, Tibo Vandenborre
Van Rampelberg release Bel 29.Jan.14,
US 7.Jul.15, UK 21.Aug.15
14/Belgium 1h05
The Treatment With a harrowingly dark tone, this Belgian mystery-thriller is reminiscent of films like The Silence of the Lambs or Seven, getting under the skin to create a sense of queasy nastiness that increases as the story progresses. But it also has a strong emotional undercurrent that makes sure we are closely connected with the central characters.

Nick (Van Rampelberg) is a hot-shot detective whose personal life is a mess due to his little brother's abduction when he was 9. Solving that crime is what led him to join the police, and now 25 years later he is investigating an eerily similar case that seems linked to the man (van Assche) he always thought was responsible for his brother's disappearance. As Nick begins uncovering a sinister underground paedophile ring, his boss (Geerts) worries that he's getting too involved. Meanwhile, the real villain (Van Malder) is terrorising another family (Verlinden, Swarnenverg and Steverlynck).

Nick is an engaging central character, beautifully played by the strikingly charismatic Van Rampleberg. Even though he's been stuck in a rut for more than 20 years, it's easy to identify with the deep horror he has lived with as well as the ongoing frustration of living so close to a suspect who taunts him regularly. Everything and everyone else is like a minor irritation in his life, so he of course dives deeply into a case that touches a nerve.

Director Herbots and writer Joos drag the audience in, cleverly turning the screw with each carefully played scene. Expertly shot to capture the horror within Nick's mind, several moments are nearly unbearable to watch because of what's happening to him internally. But there are also sequences that play boldly with imagery so transgressive that we flinch from the screen. It's a precarious balancing act not to tip over into voyeurism while acknowledging the premise's hideous reality.

By refusing to play it safe and treating the audience as adults, this film is both horrifying and startlingly exhilarating. But this allows the filmmakers to properly explore the damage both of being victimised by this kind of unthinkable crime and also of being a member of the police form trying to stop it. Of course, Nick falls into both groups, which makes him particularly vulnerable. So even if one ghastly plot point feels oddly implausible, the film leaves the audience deeply shaken but with plenty of relevant themes to ponder.

18 themes, language, violence
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