Juliet Binoche, Megan Rapinoe, Justin Chang discussed on Fresh Air

Fresh Air


The ban. When did they lift it? Just recently, as the tragic murder of George Floyd and mad Arbery and Breonna Taylor, as the protests subsequently swept the nation, I think that they realized that that policy not only is now is wrong now, but it always was. And it was the wrong policy, and they came out with a pretty strongly worded statement and rescinded it. And did Colin Kaepernick ever get in touch with you after you, Neil? Yes, yes. Yeah, we're in touch with each other, for sure. Megan Rapinoe, thank you so much for talking with us and congratulations again on your engagement and also on the new book. Thank you so much for having me on. Megan Rapinoe speaking to Terry gross in 2020. The Olympic soccer champion and social activist has just been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. Coming up, Justin Chang reviews the new French film, both sides of the blade, starring Juliette Binoche and directed by Claire Denis. This is fresh air. In the French melodrama both sides of the blade, Juliet binoche plays a Parisian radio show host whose life is disrupted by the return of a former lover. It's the latest movie from acclaimed filmmaker Claire Denis. The film won her the best director prize at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. It opens in theaters this week. Our film critic Justin Chang has this review. Both sides of the blade might sound at first like a quintessentially French movie, or perhaps even a parody of one. It stars Juliet binoche and van son Landon. Two of France's best known actors. As a couple who have a lot of sex and talk a lot about their emotions. Their scenes together have an erotic intimacy that we associate with French cinema. In part because it's relatively rare in American movies. Then a figure from the past returns and threatens their relationship. Voices are raised, tables are turned, and nothing will ever be the same. That might make both sides of the blade, sound like standard soap opera material. Especially coming from Claire Denis. The director of daringly elliptical art films, like Bo trevi, and high life. But nothing about the movie, which deny and Christine ango, adapted from Mongo's novel, feels trite or predictable. It's a jolt of a movie, full of hot blooded sensuality one moment, but then awfully cool and studied the next. Almost as if it were deconstructing itself as it went along. Which again sounds very French, but never mind. Binoche and Linda give superb performances as Sarah and Jean, who have lived together for about ten years, and still can't keep their hands off each other. They have an apartment in Paris, where they've carved out what looks like a perfect life, amid decidedly imperfect circumstances. Seurat hosts a successful radio talk show. But work is less steady for Jean. Who spent some time in prison for an undisclosed crime. He also has a tough relationship with Marcus. His teenage son from an earlier marriage, who lives with Jean's mother in the suburbs. Then one day, Francois, played by Gregoire Cola, slips back into their lives. He used to be Jean's colleague, and Sarah's lover. It begins innocuously enough. When Francois offers Jean a job at his sports talent agency. But syrah can't hide her anxiety or her excitement at the prospect of seeing Francois again. And when they finally meet, long repressed memories and desires come surging back. Inevitably, Sarah will succumb to those desires, but the movie, set to a haunting score by the English band Tinder sticks, rings enormous tension from the build up. The title of both sides of the blade evokes the age old question of whether a person can love two people at the same time. And Juliet binoche, so good at revealing complex, contradictory emotions shows us a woman torn between a partner she adores and an ex she can't forget. This is the latest collaboration between binoche and Denis. And it'd make a great double bill with their recent RomCom, let the sunshine in, a much funnier story about a woman's emotional indecision. Binoche is well matched here by van salt vandal, whose handsome weathered face suggests a man who's already lost too much, and can't bear the idea of also losing the woman he loves. Jean is quick to pick up on the warning signs and confronts seurat. I've seen a lot of heated arguments in movies. But few have been acted or shot with this much sustained intensity. Denis is a master of form, and she uses extreme close ups and jagged edits. To suggest that something has broken between these two. Possibly for good. But even as she pulls her characters close, Denise sometimes steps back and examines them from a more critical perspective. As a radio host, seurat interviews a lot of writers and artists. Often about racial and political issues that she doesn't engage with much outside work. Jean's son is a black biracial youth, who's struggling to figure out his future. And there's an awkward but moving scene, in which he and his father talk about race and discrimination. On top of all that, this is one of the few movies shot during COVID that acknowledges the reality of the pandemic. As we can see from the characters repeatedly putting on and taking off their face masks. There's something a little ungainly about how Denise balances her character's romantic anguish, with these bigger picture concerns. But that messiness seems to be the point. Even when illicit desires and shrewd and relationships fall apart, real life doesn't just politely recede into the background. Both sides of the blade wants us to see its characters rage. But it never loses sight of the larger world raging outside their windows. It's a different kind of melodrama and a great one. Justin Chang is the film critic for the LA times. He reviewed the new French melodrama both sides of the blade. On Monday's show, a talk about the largest empire in human history, the British Empire. And the impact it had on its 700 million subjects in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific. We talk with historian Caroline Elkins about her new book, legacy of

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