Mary Poppins Returns
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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All Critics (24)
| Top Critics (7)
| Fresh (18)
| Rotten (6)
The truly provocative -- some might even say blasphemous -- part of the film is its assertion that, even while preaching their rhetoric of sin and salvation, nuns and priests and cardinals are only human, and humans are nothing but animals.
It is like a lunatic opera, an attempt to make a furious poem out of frenzy. Russell's flamboyant theatricality and his interest in the perverse have been too much imposed on his other films; but here, style and subject are perfectly matched.
All the events and persons depicted in The Devils are intended to be confused with actual events and persons. How do I know? Ken Russell tells me so.
Reed carries the film with an admirably restrained portrayal of the doomed priest. Redgrave, on screen only sporadically, is stunning as the salacious sister.
No matter how thickly Russell piles on the masturbating nuns, tortured priests and dissolute dauphins, there's no getting round the fact that it's all more redolent of a camp revue than a cathartic vision.
It's a see-through movie composed of a lot of clanking, silly, melodramatic effects that, like rib-tickling, exhaust you without providing particular pleasure, to say nothing of enlightenment.
It's scandalous in that it talks about things people generally aren't prepared for and it does so with the sharp edge of satire. After seeing the film, you'll know full well who, in Ken Russell's supposition, the real Devils are.
It's an experience which pulsates and perverts, especially in those glorious moments when Russell slaps the sacred directly in its frescoed face... In this brilliant film, nothing is safe: not God, not Satan, not man, not their collective meaning.
Weird, disarmingly funny, and stuffed to the gills with inspired visuals and intense framing from [director of photograph] David Watkin, The Devils is a masterpiece.
Bruegel couldn't have captured the insanity better.
Whatever the moral perspective, it keeps you gripped right to the end.
The set design, by future director Derek Jarman, is probably the most successful element of the film.
Ken Russell's work here is deliberately thought-provoking as a priest (Reed) living on the edge of popular thought, and stubbornly argumentative with the powers-that-be, is therefore expeditiously accused of worshipping Satan. Hysteria follows. The finger pointed at modern society is strong with this one. Don't say I didn't warn you. Parental guidance suggested. For your parents, too.
For a while, the impression one gets is that Russell is not interested in discussing insanity (or its nature) but just to show it - bare naked - in a purely exploitative, surrealistic way; which is true, until everything moves so confidently towards an apotheotic display of mad depravity.
One of my all time favorite movies, sadly missing a proper DVD release with the full uncut version to this day. Seems the movie keeps hitting nerves after 40 years. Oliver Reed gives the performance of a lifetime.
Here's a film that deserves a far more detailed write-up than I am going to give it. Easily the best film I saw last year. Stellar performances keep your eyes positively glued to the screen. Wild, fiery subject matter for those willing to open themselves up to it. Well worth seeking out the original cut of the film, with the "Rape of Christ" sequence in it. This almost got an official DVD release a while back but someone applied the brakes. Lets hope cooler heads prevail and let this amazing film be seen by a greater audience.
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