Drum of Ari Aster, 2h59

It was minus one. Beau is Afraid lasts 2 hours 59 minutes. Phew. It would probably have been impossible to bear a second longer. However, the beginning was announced well. Certainly, Joaquin Phoenix does not look in great shape, on the couch of his analyst. This grey-haired, chubby fifty-year-old obviously has problems. This is not from yesterday. The practitioner asks him if he still wants to kill his mother. Good question. Beau must also visit him in Florida. Before that, he has to go home. The task is not simple. To reach his building, he is forced to cross a street strewn with corpses, filled with menacing tramps, strangers tattooed from head to toe, to avoid a serial-killer in Adam’s uniform. Ari Aster, whose Midsommar hit, illustrates with Beau Is Afraid the combined misdeeds of Hollywood and psychotherapy. His producers gave him carte blanche. His fantasies are those of a free-wheeling billionaire. The form borrows from cartoons, horror films, reality TV, the Grand Guignol. All that for this. IN.

Documentary by Alain Cavalier, 2h04

Because it was them. Because it was him. Alain Cavalier is a rare filmmaker, in every sense of the word. He films in the first person and only talks about others. He is interested in them. This interest is not feigned. Friendship consists of three portraits. First, there is Boris Bergman. Armed with his small camera, Cavalier paid a visit to Baschung’s lyricist. He asks her to write the refrains of Vertige de l’amour in a fountain pen. Alain Cavalier favors close-ups, lingering over a square of chocolate, scrutinizing faces and objects, showing the whiteness of an arm. Like a painter, he appreciates the details. You can tell he likes what he sees. He is attentive and warmly polite. It’s nothing, just the passage of time, a bit of sadness, bursts of laughter, like rockets in the night. It doesn’t look like anything. It’s spelled friendship. It’s pronounced Cavalier. It’s simple as hello. It is very beautiful. IN.

There are films from which we come out with a feeling of jubilation. Misanthrope, by Argentinian Damian Szifron, provides that effect. During New Year’s Eve, Baltimore’s affluent celebrate on patios across the city. Dancing, singing or popping champagne, just before the countdown to the new year, these privileged people only have eyes for the crackling, multicolored fireworks, an explosion of sound. It is precisely at this moment that a mysterious gunman chooses to strike the city. With dizzying precision, this serial killer executes twenty-nine victims. The mass murderer has disappeared without a trace. Only a determined cop, with dark thoughts (Shailene Woodley, formidable), had the intuition of the ongoing massacre. A veteran of the FBI (Australian Ben Mendelsohn, admirable in conviction and depth) took matters into his own hands. It is him that the city and the public authorities have instructed to shed light on the affair. Quickly, he sets up a restricted investigation cell to launch his manhunt, as the countdown begins. The city wants a culprit to calm the crowd. Misanthrope is a film as creepy as it is enjoyable. In each scene, we almost feel the pleasure of a filmmaker who returns to business. Each sequence has its touch of originality, its small cinematic side step and its share of cinematographic adrenaline. The direction of actors is very neat. Beneath its air of an adjusted psychological thriller, it is in fact a surprising, violent, disturbing film of incredible dramatic density. The great thriller of this spring. O.D.

Drame de Emin Alper, 2h08

Welcome to Yaniklar, a remote town in Türkiye. In the midst of a heat wave, water is rationed. The water tables are exhausted, the drought causes destructive craters, but the mayor intends to be re-elected by promising the population that the taps will flow freely. The reference to An Enemy of the People is no accident. Turkish director Emin Alper cites Ibsen’s play as one of his main sources of inspiration. Burning Days, presented at the last Cannes Film Festival in the Un certain regard section, is a western and a paranoid thriller. The more Emre investigates and sends the notables to prison, the more he himself builds the trap that will end up locking him up. Prison is also mental. It represses homosexual desires. Emre’s visions are therefore indefinable. Memories, hallucinations or fantasies, the failing memory of the young prosecutor is rebuilt in a chaotic way. The puzzle pieces never fit together perfectly. The truth slips away. E.S.

Animation by Phil Tippett, 1 h 25.

After three decades of procrastination, patience and determination, the special effects magician of Star Wars, Robocop, Starship Troopers or Jurassic Park Phil Tippett is finally releasing his most personal film on the screens. The plot of this film entirely made in “Stop-motion” (image by image) resembles an underwater exploration Jacques-Yves Cousteau style. A corroded diving bell descends from the sky amidst a ruined city. A masked character comes out and walks through a labyrinth of bizarre landscapes inhabited by singular inhabitants. He has a mission. He goes to a base of explosive suitcases to introduce an explosive… But everything does not go as planned… A hallucinated visual poem without words, Mad God looks like a space-opera of puppets where an infinity of bizarre creatures and monsters. Dragged into a nightmarish spiral, the main protagonist ventures into the depths of an apocalyptic abyss as if to methodically map out the circles of a dantesque hell. After thirty years of gestation, Phil Tippett’s unclassifiable film imposes a very dark and cruel vision of a humanity in decline. But it is constantly enhanced by a biting humor worthy of Monty Python… O.D.

Drame de Wissam Charaf, 1 h 23

Ellipses, tight framing, few dialogues. The director employs an elegant sobriety to tell this love story which would have everything to be dark. In an inhospitable Beirut, a survivor of the war in Syria loves an Ethiopian handywoman, sometimes treated like a slave. They will escape. Their romance is delicate. Perhaps, only, she could have given birth to a more daring intrigue. B.P.

Dramatic comedy by Andréa Bescond and Éric Métayer, 1 h39

Five years after Les Chatouilles, André Bescond and Éric Métayer imagine the residents of a retirement home forced to live with the students of an elementary school whose canteen is under construction. An unlikely scenario intended to bridge the gap between generations. A bit like Michel Blanc going back to school in Les Petites Victoires. When you grow up, under its exterior of a family comedy, nevertheless has the merit of showing old age, aging bodies and death without taboos. E. S.

Drama by Kim Chapiron, 1 h 38.

Ali, a young teenage thief, is sent to the village in Mali by his mother to be educated by an imam. He returned to France ten years later, converted into a modern and tolerant Muslim, acclaimed to become the new imam of the city. His popularity is enhanced when he organizes a pilgrimage to Mecca. Things get complicated afterwards, but it’s hard to grasp what’s at stake in the scenario, inspired by a true story. Like what the truth is not always enough. E. S.

Drame de Hajime Hashimoto, 1h30

A stroll through 18th century Japan, when the Samurai raided the streets of theater artists and print painters. This is where Hokusai, an angry young man, finds his way in painting. A picturesque biography but a little too strong for the delicate art of printmaking. The camera strives to bring The Wave or the Views of Mount Fuji into the painter’s walks and wanderings. The master deserved a more inspired evocation A. B.