CHAT20 REVIEW: The Wanting Mare [2020]

The dream is what’s left. Paradise is the place humanity escaped with the bite of an apple and yet also what we aspire to find upon death. We want it until we have it and subsequently always want more. It’s a pursuit in which we’re inevitably corrupted as selfish greed consumes any shred of empathetic compassion we once possessed. Sometimes someone does come along to remind us—lover, child, etc.—to see through the veil of conquest and recognize the joy we’ve been conditioned to reject, but for how long? Too many…

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HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles [2020]

Why am I getting an email from the Met? The choice of “medium” was easy for renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi when asked by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to collaborate on their upcoming 2018 exhibition entitled Visitors to Versailles (1682-1789). Whether or not Marie Antoinette actually said the infamous line with which she’ll forever be entangled, the excessive decadence and bloody decline of the Château de Versailles as royal court cannot escape its confectionary marriage with cake. So Ottolenghi set his sights on selecting five of the most innovative and…

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HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Finding Sally [2020]

The promise and the agony. It wasn’t until her early thirties that Tamara Mariam Dawit first discovered her father had a fifth sister named Selamawit. When she broached the subject with the other four (as well as her grandmother Tsehai), no one wanted to talk. This was the reason she moved to Ethiopia from Canada, though: to learn about her African heritage. And Aunt Sally wasn’t simply a throwaway piece of that considering the circumstances surrounding both her absence from the family and her eventual disappearance underground as part of…

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TRIBECA20 REVIEW: Socks on Fire [2020]

It’s hard to get ahead of a forty-year hurt. The hope is that the sorrow of losing a loved one proves the extent of the pain we must suffer before we set about sifting through what’s left of that expired life. It’s why we throw parties after funerals to try and approach a sense of normalcy through a celebratory remembrance of yesterday’s good times together despite today’s tough truth making it possible. We take a deep breath, confront our grief, and await the will reading meant to put every duck…

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TRIBECA20 REVIEW: Banksy Most Wanted [2020]

He’s someone who hits where it hurts. It’s always funny in a crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic to see people screaming about how they don’t believe artists should receive financial relief. Unless they’ve been sitting on their lawn and staring at the sky these past two months, however, they’ve dealt very extensively with art on a daily basis. Maybe it’s entertainment like books, TV, movies, or music. Maybe it’s property such as homes, furniture, or interior design. And if we dig a bit further, we discover these people are…

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BERLINALE20 REVIEW: La déesse des mouches à feu [Goddess of the Fireflies] [2020]

I feel like I’m wasting my life. Die-hard grunge fan (and drug dealer) Fred (Noah Parker) tells Catherine (Kelly Depeault) she can’t play her Hole cd because Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain. It’s a remark that was probably half joke and half memorial that leads into Keven (Robin L’Houmeau) dropping the necessary wisdom of knowing Love wouldn’t have been able to stop him if she tried. Cobain wasn’t a victim. He lived hard and walked a road of his own making to an end he ultimately embraced enough to pull…

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OIFF19 REVIEW: סיבת המוות [Cause of Death] [2019]

I can’t stop thinking about it. Director Ramy A Katz leaves three text cards at the end of his Cause of Death to share responses to the film that were supplied by the Israeli police department, Ministry of Health, and the medical examiner of Officer Salim Barakat’s body upon his death at the scene of a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv on March 5, 2002. Each statement possesses one commonality that doesn’t make sense when read after watching Salim’s brother Jamal’s unofficial investigation into what happened a decade later. It’s…

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OIFF19 REVIEW: Mafak [Screwdriver] [2019]

I didn’t even cry. You hate to think of the United States as a warzone and yet that’s exactly what it is in many respects. Whether a for-profit prison system leaving a largely Black population disenfranchised, unemployable, and haunted or caged children who crossed the Southern border for asylum only to be scarred by the psychological torture of being indefinitely ripped from their parents, minorities across our country are being held as prisoners of war without any concrete conflict on the books. Multiply this tragedy by a thousand and you…

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ANOMALY19 REVIEW: VFW [2019]

Same mud. That co-writer Matthew McArdle remains shocked even after seeing the film he and Max Brallier wrote on the big screen shows how tough the accomplishment proves. Best friends since childhood, the two began their script for VFW with transparent intentions as far as harkening back to the no-holds-barred VHS gems they’d scour video store shelves to find. Using John Carpenter‘s Assault on Precinct 13 as inspiration, they created a group of aging vets decades-removed from service yet still thick as thieves with a drug-fueled, zombie-esque horde threatening to…

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ANOMALY19 REVIEW: Bacurau [2019]

A feast of fear and terror. It’s been awhile since Teresa (Bárbara Colen) last stepped foot in Bacurau, the small Brazilian village where she was born. Escape has proven the only way to become known outside of one’s neighbors since those who remain entrenched by choice (or necessity) are more or less the sole providers of their own survival. This notion might have begun in the abstract with the obvious contrast between a big city like São Paulo and their humble abode, but it’s been made overtly true with food…

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OIFF19 REVIEW: Advocate [2019]

It’s always heavy. The crucial truth within Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche‘s documentary Advocate arrives courtesy of their subject Lea Tsemel. She explains how there will be no end to the violence between Israelis and Palestinians until a human understanding of the motives can be reached. Israel’s staunch stance as the unequivocal victim was a lie from the beginning since we all know about the number of people that were displaced upon its creation. So to blindly accept their designation of Palestine as a terrorist community rather than a…

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