Queen to Play

There’s something to be said about a good sports movie. They often have the most tired formulas, and easily devolve into sap and lazy storytelling, but when done right their predictable structures feel less-paint-by numbers and more like the comfort of a familiar friend. But there are two characteristics of writer/director Caroline Bottaro’s debut feature Queen to Play that don’t automatically denote a generic sports movie: it’s French, and it’s about chess. However, Bottaro uses the formula to such an advantage that it feels like sleight of hand as she delivers a film that’s simple but engrossing, one that’s familiar but slyly touching. Helene (Sandrine Bonnaire) is a working class mother. She cleans apartments and hotel rooms for a living. Her husband Ange (Francis Renaud) is a day laborer who sees his friends getting laid off left and right and is a afraid that he’ll be the next. Expenses are always on their mind, and they squeak by one month to the next. Their daughter is having trouble navigating adolescence with her “common” parents, self-righteously resenting the economic place from which she came. They are, in short, a family all too aware of their “place” on the social ladder, Helene especially since she has the job of cleaning up after the wealthy. One morning she curiously watches an American couple (one of the two Americans, surprisingly, is Jennifer Beals, but she isn’t the only familiar stateside face in the film) playing chess on a porch as she cleans their room.

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The Reject Report

It ain’t Easter, right? It ain’t Easter. It ain’t white rabbit day. Don’t tell Universal that. They’re looking to bring in the golden egg with the seasonal Hop, and there’s a very good chance of that happening. Duncan Jones’s second film, Source Code, and the new horror film from the guys who brought us Saw – thanks, guys to be named later – may have something to say about that, but whatever that is will probably fall on deaf bunny ears. See what I did there? Well, see some more this week with the Reject Report the hollow chocolate bunny edition.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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