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Manuel de Layet [Celluloid 05.18.17] action drama adventure martial arts

Editor's Note: Cannes 2017 is now in full swing and we've got some great coverage to come. This year we're adding "Quick Takes" which, as the name suggest, are initial impressions on movies from our man-on-the-ground.

Blade of the Immortal, dir. Takeshi Miike

It's been somewhat of a hit and miss with Miike recently, the last one I watched was thematically and formally a shit ton of locust droppings, so there was some apprehension towards yet another godforsaken manga adaptation. Turns out I was wrong, this one is a keeper.

There is absolutely nothing in the story you've not seen; young girl seeking revenge hires a bodyguard with supernatural powers is one of the tropes, and even if you've never heard of Japanese culture it can be summed up with an Occidental simile: Highlander in feudal Japan.

Where Miike shines here is in the execution (pun intended), using the material to build a vibrant homage to Chanbara.

It's not perfect, the 140 minutes of runtime are interwoven with truly brilliant scenes and moments as dull as polished coal, the rhythm isn't that masterfully controlled but everything is wrapped up with schoolyard humor and ultra-violence into a decidedly entertaining package.

The senseless brutality and chaos of a melee as it is depicted in the massive fights here feel viscerally accurate. I tried in vain to keep up with the body count, lost track around 200. Making it a contender with Premutos, Der Geffalen Engel.

Loveless, dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev

We are, as a species, despicable creatures.

The Good thing with that state of things is that it makes beautifully grueling pictures such as Andrey Zvyagintsev's Loveless possible.

The movie follows a couple going through a divorce and the disappearance of their child. This sends the mundane yet somewhat sordid lives of the couple out of whatever illusion of control they had. The bitterness, hatred, pettiness and far away beneath all that the forlorn hopes and withered joy like bones at the bottom of a mineshaft.

In all honesty, that one hit really close to home, and I'm still shaken by one particular scene. Yes. You read that right.

This is something you must see if only to learn from it and avoid doing the same mistakes as the characters.

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