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19. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
It might not be the year’s best science-fiction extravaganza about alternate realities – that honour goes to Everything, Everywhere, All at Once – but Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is deliriously entertaining in its own right. The weirdest and scariest of Marvel’s blockbusters, it was directed by Sam Raimi, who made both the Evil Dead and the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy, and he fills the screen with his love of classic superhero comics and horror movies. The film isn’t just an exuberant celebration of pulp fantasy, though. There are some poignant musings on family, faith and sacrifice in among the flying zombies and green-furred minotaurs. (NB)
Vicky Krieps’ (Phantom Thread) quietly fierce performance as Empress Elisabeth of Austria is a perfect match for this sumptuous period piece with a brash contemporary soul. The story is set in 1877, when Elisabeth is turning 40, no longer the popular beauty she once was. Her palaces, stables and grounds have become a prison. Marie Kreutzer’s film presents its heroine as an independent-minded woman in an era that is not yet on the cusp of modernity, signalling that paradox with a soundtrack of pop songs. Such bold moves give Corsage a bracing energy as it captures the inner struggles of a woman trying to escape the confines of social expectations and of time itself. The story departs from the facts most radically in creating a new final act for Elisabeth, one that is not necessarily happier but is true to her wilful nature and to this audacious film’s savvy sense of invention. (CJ)
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