Browsing: Film Reviews

Right out of the theater and both hyped up and disturbed by this important film. A great work of investigative journalism, Cold Case Hammarskjiöld is a must-see for everyone to see the dark history of the genocide of Africans by the American and British intelligence services. Shown as part of the Wisconsin Film Festival, the film starts with a black-and-white animation showing a plane being blown up in the sky. Soon, we find out the plane belonged to Dag Hammarskjiöld, the second secretary general of the United Nations. Mads Brügger adopts a combination of animation, photos, and live-action to make…

When Charlotte (Marguerite Bouchard) gets dumped by her longtime boyfriend after he reveals that he’s gay, her immediate reaction is to feel both aggrieved and weirdly undaunted. Venting to her besties Mégane (Romane Denis) and Aube (Rose Adam), she alternately curses her ex and angrily insists that this cannot and will not stop her from pursuing a relationship with him. Though both of these extremes are temporary, they say a lot about Charlotte, who doesn’t do things halfway. “You need to find ways to have fun,” one of her friends tells her, and she dedicates herself to that, too, quickly…

The entire story takes place in less than a day, and in one location, in a middle-aged woman’s house, where she has been living there alone. All her attachments to life are 4 picture frames of the men of her life. One from her husband, a man who once supported Mossadegh (the democratic prime minister of Iran in 1950s that his government was overturned by a CIA coup in 1953), but after many years he goes to Hajj while drinking alcohol privately (forbidden for Moslems). Also there are two picture frames of her sons, one from his son that had…

A group of young girls argue with each other on what they’ve seen and done on Instagram as they walk on street. One of their fathers calls and the girl starts to come up with excuses for why she hasn’t come home yet. Suddenly people around them start to run. We follow the girls until we see a chopped off head on the sidewalk. This is how Pig starts. All this time, the sound has made us uncomfortable to finally give us the final shock. The sound of the girls talking over each other mixed with the urban noises, especially…

Rob Garver’s documentary on Pauline Kael is not just a portrait of a single personality, nor an elegy for the glory days of film criticism, but a contemplation of the joys of opinion and of a time when opinion mattered. In the age of Rotten Tomatoes and multitudes of YouTube pundits, it’s hard to imagine a time when a single voice such as Kael’s could make and break, or at least dent, reputations. But What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael – note that vital word ‘art’ –  also shows how the shock waves from Kael’s brilliant, sometimes immoderate or contrarian opinions,…

Never look away is, first and foremost, the story of an artist who struggles to find his voice under the pressure of state and society’s imposed restrictions. As such, it is one of the most relevant films for this time—and for that matter, probably any time. This is the story of the people who challenge the dominant discourse—whether it is imposed by the state, the society, the media, or the professionals—and the price they pay for it. At the same time, through the life of a doctor, the film depicts how the lying powerful could stay in power, as they…

ASKED about the movie we’d just seen, one patron suggested there was ‘a lot to digest’ – wow, did she get that one right. When you’ve seen the main characters eat their fair share of worms, maggots and assorted bugs, you might find things hard to digest. Or even keep down. Border is that kind of movie; whatever that kind of movie is. As director Ali Abbasi makes clear, he’s no genre guy and this is no genre film. You could try horror, crime, romance, myth, but you’d be more or less missing the point – whatever the point is.…

The camera accompanies a man down several stories in a rickety elevator. As he leaves the building, we stay inside, watching through cracked, dirty glass as he kicks a car and attacks a woman wearing a chador. We can’t quite hear or see what’s happening—is this the wife who’s been trying to catch him out in an affair with their neighbor? A group of bystanders gets involved, and we glide helplessly back up in the elevator, watching the dramatic climax slide out of reach. That’s a scene from an early film by the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, Fireworks Wednesday (2006). It’s also a signature…

Tyler has left his family to have a weekend with a friend and his friend’s buddies. Tyler quickly finds out that he is the only black person in the crowd. The white crowd gradually turns out to be made up of anti-Trump liberals with racist and sometimes homophobic and transphobic biases. (The name of the film actually comes from one of those friends calling him Tyrel instead of Tyler, establishing the lack of connection from the very beginning.) The theme of “racist liberal whites” has been at the center of a few films, especially over the past two years, since…

What makes a family? Love? Blood? Both? Neither? This is the central theme of Shoplifters, another great drama by Kore-eda Hirokazu and the winner of Palme d’Or in 2018. The film has a tendency to reveal the information to the audience gradually. What looks like a complete family in the beginning, a family that tries to give shelter to a little girl, step by step turns out to be a group of people who have gotten together to “form” a family, a family they want, not one they were born into. Some of the characters explicitly state their thought about…

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