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Leaving Neverland (2019)
One of the hardest reviews I ever had to write, perhaps for two reasons: the fact you like Michael Jackson's iconic music and choreography, and also the approach to filming which is not really what I would call a documentary. Nevertheless, this "documentary" can and should be interpreted on three different levels for anyone, including myself or someone of opposing ideas, to really make an objective review and take it all in a balanced manner. Something the theme itself does not allow in the first place.
First of all, the documentary has been promoted as a final stand against Michael Jackson, the last verdict on him even though he has been dead for ten years. After watching the film, I am more convinced it is about the two boys, who needed to tell their story, who needed to lift the burden of their lie and let people know what abuse meant. Their goal was not to harm Michael (not sure how much harm can be done now) but actually share with others feelings that could help those being abused right now.
Secondly, the documentary does not reveal anything new on the scandals Michael Jackson was accused of. Even I knew something must have been happening with all these kids hanging around and staying for the night. Even I could state there was some form of deviance, likely sexual, and it became clear in a few documentaries released after his death. From a cinematic perspective, this is not a documentary as stated by the genre. It is more an interview than a documentary since it is a story-telling of the two boys' journey through the painful memory lane. But there is no counter-attack. There is no verifying of claims and descriptions. No interview to other kids who were abused, to Neverland staff who was there at the time, and so on. Because of this, critics were quick to shout "one-sided". Again, this is not the case. This film is an interview meant at sharing the suffering and the damage abuse does, so those being abused now can tell what is happening to them.
Last but not least, the biggest pain for me was how the justice system really failed. Twice. Even if Michael Jackson had money, we still let it happen. A cruel and stark reminder that we let things pass without really looking, and something both the boys and the mothers of the two boys had to face. The second part of the documentary really shows the hardened relationship within the families and shows the extent of damages from child abuse.
A controversial "documentary" which leaves hearts broken for different reasons but does not leave all stones unturned. It is probably worse when a renowned celebrity (as much as a dear relative) is at the centre of this. Better to leave it like the sister of one of the boys says: some of us love Michael the artist, the genius; others though know Michael the man. That is a irreconcilable dichotomy we will never be able to solve and be at peace with.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Closing the loop
X-Men: Apocalypse is the third installment of the 'revival' trilogy which started with First Class and rather than a reboot is a look into the X-Men history in line with the fresh, more realistic, more dazzling look of superhero movies of recent years. Plot follows the rebirth of Apocalypse, the first ever mutant, from a buried tomb in Egypt. He comes to learn of mutants in the present he wakes up to (1983) and starts to recruit mutants to create a better world. The clash with Prof Xavier's mutants is inevitable and leads to a clash of ideologies. The film kept the comics settings during the Cold War and it was a fresh view to that time period in line with First Class and Days of Futures Past set in 1960s and 1970s respectively. Not as good the previous two but helps answer many questions from this trilogy and the previous one (from the 00s). There is a lot of reference to the previous films and if you have not seen those you only enjoy this one in a limited way. Unless you followed the trilogy and/or are into superheroes, the plot unfolds very slowly and references are sometimes implicit.
A tragicomic tale of generation gaps
A simple but deep story which borders the comic and the tragic as 3 characters from 3 completely different generations are faced with family challenges they cannot solve alone. Constance (Noémie Schmidt) has problems with her nerves when attending exams and struggles to know what she wants to do in life. She is now making the big jump from school to university, and moving to Paris. Henri Voizot (Claude Brasseur) is offering a room to let in his nice old style French apartment but his misanthropic, grumpy ways are not easy to handle and finds his match in Constance. The old man ultimately seeks her help to interfere in his son's marriage before he makes a big mistake. Will Constance lower to such ignoble task to keep her room and also her student career? A great Claude Brasseur as the grumpy old man and a promising Noémie Schmidt make us accomplices as we watch their events unfold in this theatrical play made into a film for us to enjoy.