new horizons international film festival by cultural hater

Day 3 of New Horizons International Film Festival 2019 – Zombi Child, The Beach Bum & More

Partying with Matthew McConaughey isn’t as good as one could imagine, while Haitian voodoo is still waiting for a true masterpiece that would explore its beauty in a more memorable way.

zombi child Bertrand bonello - cultural hater
Louise Labeque in “Zombi Child”.

Zombi Child

Dir. Bertrand Bonello

Hate Grade: 3.5/10

“Zombi Child” follows a Haitian girl Melissa, who studies at a prestigious French school for girls. Her story entwines with her grandfather’s zombification that took place in the 60s on Haiti.

Bertrand Bonello had a fantastic film on a plate. With a sharp visual canvas, and a genuine idea for intersecting two separate stories, the director could have aimed for a study of the Haitian culture that is brought to modern France.

“Zombi Child” isn’t quite exactly that, but there are moments of bliss, when Bonello’s film hypnotizes. Whenever the director throws his audience into a wild voodoo ritual or lets us peak into the overwhelming dry-land of emotions inside the French school, “Zombi Child” turns into a piercing piece, that grips and holds that grip firmly. At other times, mostly when Bonello goes back in time to Haiti, this indie darling’s sharpness goes AWOL.

As a consequence, “Zombi Child” never fully spreads its wings.

juniper tree - cultural hater
Still from “The Juniper Tree”.

The Juniper Tree

Dir. Nietschka Keene

Hate Grade:

Directed in 1990, “The Juniper Tree” is an adaptation of a Brothers Grimm’s tale about two witches who move into a rural cottage where a father and his son live.

Keene’s film has gone through hell and high water, before it grew into a perfect entry for a “lost” festival section. The filming took place in 1986, but its premiere was moved four years after, only to end up on a shelf again. Due to lack of funding, and the sudden death of director Nietschka Keene, seeing “The Juniper Tree” is a rare gem for every cinephile. By reducing it to the form of 50s vintage look, Keene focuses entirely on the essence of Grimm’s tale, creating an outside-world mood, exposing an exhausting but nonetheless calming life by the coast. I could possibly see it as an inspiration for Robert Eggers’ “The Witch”.

beach bum - Matthew mcpconaughey movie
Matthew McConaughey in Harmony Korine’s “The Beach Bum”.

The Beach Bum

Dir. Harmony Korine

Hate Grade: 6/10

“Have fun at all costs” serves as a motto to live by in Harmony Korine’s deeply flawed exploration of madness.

In the film’s centre stands Moondog – an apparently acclaimed poet, whose life is a never-ending stream of booze, weed, half-naked women, and all the other things considered party must-haves according to Hollywood. Played by Matthew McConaughey, Moondog is the definition of hedonism, living life at his fullest.

“The Beach Bum” is entirely devoted to abrupt excesses of Moondog, feverishly trying to catch up with what’s going on in his mind. The issue is that instead of any deeper analysis of Moondog, Korine goes back to the aesthetics of “Spring Breakers”, but offers none of his previous movie’s depth. McConaughey goes on a rampage, smoking joints, having random sex, or just casually getting drunk.

As an exclamation mark after screaming YOLO, Korine’s story meets the expectations. But as a festival darling that influences this year’s cinema, let’s just forget it exists.

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