Steve Joseph's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Alleluia
Alleluia (2015)
2 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

After seeing director Fabrice Du Welz's interesting but rather shaky debut Calvaire, and its close-but-no-cigar follow-up Vinyan, I headed into Alleluia with a fair amount of skepticism, enhanced by the fact that there's already one excellent film -- 1969's The Honeymoon Killers -- concerning the true story of the so-called Lonely Hearts Murders. In the US during the 1950s, a fading gigolo named Ray Fernandez seduced a frumpy, overweight young nurse named Martha Beck; though he intended to swindle her as he'd done to so many other women, the two ended forming a perverse bond. Together they carried out a series of murders, ostensibly for the money (their marks were all wealthy widows). Alleluiah, like The Honeymoon Killers, is more interested in the dynamic between the two lovers than it is in the procedural aspects of such a story. In this film Lola Dueñas plays Gloria, the female half of the pair against Laurent Lucas as Michel, the male in the relationship. The murders are horrifying, and there's plenty of starkly beautiful imagery to be seen, but it's the performances which stay in the memory; even as these two dangerously sick people commit despicable acts of violence before our very eyes, it's impossible to really hate them. We fear what they will do to other people, but it's clear that their love, however twisted and self-destructive, is real. There are a few missteps in the film, but the overall effect is quite strong. Du Welz finally creates a fully-realized horror film, consistent from start to finish, which does justice to his excellent lead performers. The violence, while rather strong, is never gratuitous, and since the filmmakers avoid the fatal mistake of playing it all for laughs, the dread we feel is palpable. There is an intelligence at work behind the camera here. I very much look forward to more from Du Welz!

Los Olvidados
Los Olvidados (1952)
8 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Devoid of sentimentalism, terrifying, and heartbreaking. One of Bunuel's great masterpieces, and the film that revitalized his career as an international filmmaker of note. Basically, the story portrays the lives of a group of impoverished boys in contemporary Mexico City. There are no easy answers, no moments of redemption; even everyday reality is subject to spontaneous dissolution. This may be the best film of its kind ever made...and it's only one of a slew of cinematic masterpieces Bunuel directed.