REVIEW: High Life [2019]

“What do you know about cruelty?” Redemption can be an illusion to so many people. They try so hard to make up for past misdeeds that they often fall prey to even more along the way. That’s what happens when you give your quest a tangible goal—achieving it becomes paramount, the process a means to […]

REVIEW: 江湖儿女 [Jiang hu er nü] [Ash Is Purest White] [2018]

“Armed men tend to die first” The genesis of Zhangke Jia‘s Jiang hu er nü [Ash is Purest White] is intriguing. After thinking about cut scenes from two of his earlier films starring now wife Tao Zhao (Unknown Pleasures and Still Life), he found himself merging her characters into one. He saw this woman having […]

REVIEW: JT LeRoy [2019]

“I wouldn’t even exist without her” It really is a wild story. Laura Albert, in need of expressing her pain outside of her own identity, creates a fictional version of herself to write three novels as exorcism under “his” name. Who knows if she anticipated the type of acclaim they and “he” would receive, but […]

REVIEW: Peterloo [2018]

“Let’s see what he has to say” Films devoid of main protagonists are generally created as such because the event orbited by their ensemble of characters proves the focal point instead. So when that central moment is a massacre, you must brace for the reality that many will end up victims left for dead. The […]

REVIEW: Little Woods [2019]

“Your choices are only as good as your options” There’s a great documentary about what life is like in the fracking boomtowns of North Dakota entitled The Overnighters. In it we witness an example of humanity at its simultaneous best and worst. Desperate men seeking an escape from troubles back home arrive to find a […]

REVIEW: Rafiki [2018]

“We’re going to be something real” Some will dismiss Wanuri Kahiu‘s Rafiki as derivative simply because they refuse to see what makes it so special. They’ll mention its Romeo and Juliet parallel as far as having the children of opposing political candidates fall in love. They’ll compare it to generic love stories—and generic gay love […]

REVIEW: The Garden Left Behind [2019]

“Why are you here?” What’s mostly a vérité document of lead character Tina’s (Carlie Guevara) trajectory towards chemically transitioning from male to female despite being an undocumented immigrant in an expensive city like New York, Flavio Alves‘ The Garden Left Behind is also a rather potent expression of humanity’s collective dysphoria. Tina is at the […]

REVIEW: 情牽拉麵茶 [Ramen Teh] [Ramen Shop] [2018]

“He kept her memory alive with every bowl of ramen” While Eric Khoo‘s Ramen Teh [Ramen Shop] is at its core a story about a young man looking to reclaim a part of his heritage that was lost, it’s also a rather poignant account of the lasting scars of war and the struggle to separate […]

REVIEW: Mary Magdalene [2018]

“I wish there were a demon inside me” I’m a non-practicing Catholic who hasn’t paid attention in Church since earning my First Communion, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the adjective my mind encounters upon hearing the name Mary Magdalene is “prostitute.” It’s the word the church purposefully utilized to erase her from Jesus […]

REVIEW: Stockholm [2019]

“The party has begun” The names have been changed. That might not mean much since “true stories” generally do that by making composites of certain characters to give the drama a more cinematic feel, but it means a lot here considering the topic at-hand: Stockholm syndrome. It’s a complex subject dealing with the notion that […]

REVIEW: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote [2019]

“You think explaining explains anything?” I’ve just finished watching it and yet I still can’t believe Terry Gilliam actually completed The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. If you told me I had dreamt it all I would give pause because it’s been over twenty years in the making and its cursed production schedules have become […]