Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Movie Review: ‘Tuesday,’ with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Is Strange, Emotional and Fiercely Original

 This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
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Movie Review: ‘Tuesday,’ with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Is Strange, Emotional and Fiercely Original

 This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)
This image released by A24 shows Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a scene from "Tuesday." (Kevin Baker/A24 via AP)

Death has taken many forms in cinema. It’s been Bengt Ekerot. Ian McKellen. John Cleese. Even Brad Pitt with blonde highlights. But in “Tuesday,” filmmaker Daina O. Pusić's bold, fantastical and affecting debut, death looks like a lot like a macaw that's seen better days.

Covered in a thick layer of grime and oil with patches of feathers missing, “Tuesday’s” Death can be as big as a room or as small as an ear canal. Its booming, gravelly voice (that of actor Arinzé Kene) sounds ancient and otherworldly. And it all adds up to something profoundly unsettling. Not exactly a comforting welcome into the afterlife, or whatever comes next.

“Tuesday,” expanding nationwide Friday, is about death, and acceptance, between a mother and her dying daughter. But this is no Hallmark affair fitting for a sympathy card. It is prickly, wry, somewhat unsentimental, a bit gritty and awfully painful at times. Or maybe it’s just uniquely British. And you may just find yourself in a puddle of your own tears as a result.

Now, in terms of cinematic emotional blackmail, a parent coming to terms with a child’s imminent death is pretty much in the red zone. That sort of setup could produce involuntary tears from an audience regardless of the level of talent involved. Thankfully for us, there is immense creativity and vision both in front of and behind the camera, including not just the writer-director but the special effects experts responsible for Death as well as the haunting and innovative sound design.

Lola Petticrew plays the titular Tuesday, a teen with a “Breathless” pixie cut, a love of jokes and rap music and a terminal illness that has bound her to an oxygen tank and the use of a wheelchair. Her mother, Zora (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), has entirely disconnected from the situation. She tiptoes around the house waiting for the nurse, Billie (a lovely Leah Harvey), to do the caretaking. She stays out all day, pawning household items for cash to pay for the care, ignoring Tuesday’s calls and occasionally falling asleep on park benches. At home, she doesn’t want to talk to Tuesday about anything real — the death, her job, their precarious financial position — it’s all been deeply repressed and compartmentalized and is making everyone crazy.

The day we meet Zora and Tuesday is the day Death arrives. Billie has left Tuesday on the patio for just a minute to start a bath. All of a sudden, the girl who was just joking around is having an episode, gasping for air, when the macaw lands by her side. Death is actually the first character introduced, in an unnerving series of deaths setting an ominous tone that will loom throughout. Some are ready to go, begging for relief. Some are just scared. And all have the same outcome once he’s put his wing around them.

Tuesday, however, decides to tell a joke. This disarms Death (who bursts out laughing) and suddenly they’re in conversation together. She gives him a bath, puts on some music and asks a favor: She’d like to say goodbye to her mom first. Death obliges.

Of course, the story both is and isn’t that simple. “Tuesday” becomes some strange combination of body horror, fairy tale, domestic drama and apocalypse thriller. It is weird and transfixing — never predictable and never boring. Louis-Dreyfus is both chilling and deeply empathetic as this woman who has been paralyzed by grief even before it’s happened. She seems to be preparing for her own death in a way, unable and unwilling to process a life without her daughter who, at this point, doesn’t even realize that her mother still loves her. Petticrew holds her own, going head-to-head with Louis-Dreyfus at her cruelest, exhibiting a wisdom beyond her years and fitting of a person who’s had to grow up and face death far too early.

“Tuesday” is ultimately a cathartic affair, whether death is top of mind at the moment or not. And it announces the arrival of a daring filmmaker worth following.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Movie Review: In ‘Deadpool & Wolverine,’ the Superhero Movie Finally Accepts Itself for What It Is 

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Movie Review: In ‘Deadpool & Wolverine,’ the Superhero Movie Finally Accepts Itself for What It Is 

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)

If one thing is certain about “Deadpool,” it’s that its titular hero, for reasons never explained, understands his place in the world — well, in our world.

Indeed, the irreverent and raunchy mutant is sure to belabor his awareness of the context in which he lives — namely an over-saturated, increasingly labyrinthine multibillion-dollar Marvel multiverse which spans decades, studios and too many films for most viewers to count.

From its inception, the “Deadpool” franchise has prided itself on a subversive, self-aware anti-superhero superhero movie, making fun of everything from comic books to Hollywood to its biggest champion, co-writer and star, Ryan Reynolds.

It’s no surprise then, as fans have come to expect, that the long-anticipated “Deadpool & Wolverine” further embraces its fourth wall-breaking self-awareness — even as it looks increasingly and more earnestly like the superhero movie blueprint it loves to exploit. That tension — the fact that “Deadpool” has called out comic book movie tropes despite being, in fact, a comic book movie — is somehow remedied in “Deadpool & Wolverine,” which leans into its genre more than the franchise’s first two movies.

Perhaps this gives viewers more clarity on its intended audience. After all, someone who hates superhero films — I’m looking at you, Scorsese — isn’t going to be won over because of a few self-deprecating jokes about lazy writing, budgets for A-list cameos and the overused “superhero landing” Reynolds’ Deadpool regularly refers to.

But this time around, director Shawn Levy — his first Marvel movie — seems to have found a sweet spot. Levy is surely helped by the fact that the third film in the franchise has a bigger budget, more hype and, of course, a brooding Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

That anticipation makes their relationship, packed with hatred and fandom, all the more enticing. Their fight scenes against each other are just as compelling as their moments of self-sacrificial partnership in the spirit of, you guessed it, saving the world(s).

Speaking of worlds, there is one important development in our own to be aware of ahead of time. The first two “Deadpool” films were distributed by 20th Century Fox, whose $71.3 billion acquisition by the Walt Disney Co. in 2019 opened the door for the franchise to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Deadpool & Wolverine” takes full advantage of that vast playground, which began in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man” and now includes more than 30 films and a host of television shows. The acquisition is also a recurring target of Deadpool’s sarcasm throughout the movie.

Although steeped in references and cameos that can feel a bit like inside baseball for the less devoted, “Deadpool & Wolverine” is easy enough to follow for the casual Marvel viewer, though it wouldn’t hurt to have seen the first “Deadpool” and Jackman’s 2017 “Logan,” a harbinger of the increasing appetite for R-rated superhero violence. The Disney+ series “Loki” also gives helpful context, though is by no means a must watch, on the Time Variance Authority, which polices multiverse timelines to avoid “incursions,” or the catastrophic colliding of universes.

A defining feature of “Deadpool” has been its R rating and hyper violent action scenes. Whether thanks to more money, Levy’s direction or some combination of the two, these scenes are much more visually appealing.

But “Deadpool & Wolverine” does succumb to some of the deus ex machina writing that so often plagues superhero movies. Wade Wilson’s (the real identity of Deadpool) relationship with his ex (?) Vanessa is particularly underdeveloped — though it’s possible that ambiguity is a metaphor for Deadpool’s future within the MCU.

The plot feels aimless at points toward the end. One cameo-saturated battle scene in particular is resolved in a way that leaves its audience wanting after spending quite a bit of time building tension around it. While there are a few impressive stars who make an appearance, audiences may be disappointed by the amount of MCU characters referenced who don’t make it in.

The bloody but comedic final fight scene, however, is enough to perk viewers back up for the last act, solidifying the film’s identity as a fun, generally well-made summer movie.

The sole MCU release of 2024, “Deadpool & Wolverine” proves it’s not necessarily the source material that’s causing so-called superhero fatigue. It also suggests, in light of Marvel’s move to scale back production following a pandemic and historic Hollywood strikes, that increased attention given to making a movie will ultimately help the final product.