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Science Fair (2018)
Best doc, not worst
I had to balance the 1 star review that precedes this one. This won the Audience Award at Sundance, so I can assure you that emotional response was truer than the cold hearted one expressed by Brian. An industry friend of mine was at the Sundance screenings and says it was a raucous room of joy. I saw this yesterday at the Portland IFF and that audience also had their hearts in their throats from the very start. The film smartly opens with undeniably great footage of a previous winner, a kid named Jack, whose unembarrassed nerdjoy just fills up the screen. The film takes off from there. If you respond to these youth competition documentaries (SPELLBOUND, FIRST POSITION) you will love this one too.
Un beau soleil intérieur (2017)
Not for everyone, as you can tell from the other reviews here
Claire Denis' "Let the Sun Shine In" is an exhausting and overwhelming experience, as is the choreography of romance and life it is set in. In the world of tinder, it's all 1s and 0s, but real life these days is much less binary and less immediately satisfying. You won't find that kind of easy romcom satisfaction in Denis' film. One is buffeted by indecision, imprecision, and inaction while swimming in self doubt and self loathing. Isabelle, our stand-in for the duration, is emotionally exhausting. She asks a lot of her lovers and of the audience. She says "stay with me, stay," and Denis uses Juliette Binoche to maximum seductive affect but it's not an easy journey. Isabelle is, by turns, a strong woman with a lot to offer and who knows what she wants, but also a weak human being filled with doubt. She's a paradox and a contradiction, but she also understands without acknowledging that she will always have opportunities...another opportunity. She is someone who is exploring the boundaries of her self. It's perplexing territory to the men she meets but also to herself. Denis shows us as many facets of Isabelle as we are willing to see, that we can see. I think there's a lot more there than I could see at one sitting. A unique portrait. Her best film since "White Material." I'd love to talk to her about it!