REVIEW: You Were Never Really Here [2018]

“I must do better, sir” An unparalleled exercise in economy, Lynne Ramsay‘s You Were Never Really Here cements her status as a cinematic master. This brutalist thriller runs a deliberate yet swift 89-minutes, its central character a man of few words with violence bubbling just beneath a too large heart for the hostile world that’s […]

REVIEW: Love After Love [2018]

“She was a person of real consequence” A father is sick and then he dies. There’s nothing too original in that progression of events or in how those left behind cope. Sometimes this type of tragedy makes people retreat within themselves and others see themselves lash out for attention. Sometimes it’s a foregone conclusion loved […]

REVIEW: Lean on Pete [2018]

“I’d rather them never see me again than see me like this” Loneliness is a tough concept to cope with as a child, especially when it begins to seem as though you’re to blame. That’s hardly the case, though, since people who leave do so out of selfishness rather than “just cause.” You may think […]

REVIEW: 火垂るの墓 [Hotaru no haka] [Grave of the Fireflies] [1988]

“Please stay home with me” Everything I read and heard about Isao Takahata‘s Hotaru no haka [Grave of the Fireflies] appeared to want to prepare me for a solemnly tragic tale that couldn’t be completed without tears streaming down my face. I took this train of thought as a badge of honor—preparing its emotionality and […]

REVIEW: Oh Lucy! [2018]

“Meow. Meow. Smooch.” I saw Atsuko Hirayanagi‘s short film Oh Lucy! back in 2014 and thought it to be a bona fide charmer. It told the story of a lonely woman named Setsuko who does her niece a favor by recouping the cost of English classes the cash-strapped girl had decided quit. The American teacher […]

REVIEW: Sweet Smell of Success [1957]

“No. You’re dead, son. Get yourself buried.” The hook is simple: Steve Dallas (Martin Milner) and Susan Hunsecker (Susan Harrison) are in love, but big brother J.J. (Burt Lancaster) doesn’t approve. He hasn’t supported her with penthouses and fur coats to watch a young guitarist whisk her away, but he can’t be caught stopping them […]

REVIEW: Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free [2016]

“Become who you are” There’s a great line spoken by an aged Lou Andreas-Salomé (Nicole Heesters) to new friend and potential biographer Ernst Pfeiffer (Matthias Lier) upon his praise-fueled declaration that the way she lived her life—her freedom—was a touchstone for modern feminism. Her reply is, “Nonsense. What’s changed for us women since then?” It’s […]

TFF18 REVIEW: All These Small Moments [2018]

“And then, somehow over time, I stopped smiling” It’s called All These Small Moments for a reason—one that becomes clear with a final, out-of-nowhere moment of voiceover narration in case you hadn’t figured it out yourself by acknowledging how formative, complex, and emotionally draining each one of writer/director Melissa B. Miller-Costanzo‘s dense scenes prove. Whether […]

REVIEW: An Ordinary Man [2018]

“I am myth” Despite being someone known for family friendly fare (Casper and A Series of Unfortunate Events), Brad Silberling was always the guy behind the under-rated Moonlight Mile to me. Beyond its sentimentality and contrivances, it cemented his name as one to follow. Besides 10 Items or Less, however, he career mostly shifted from […]

REVIEW: A Quiet Place [2018]

“I have always loved you” It’s always a risk going to a film on opening night—especially horror. The genre attracts a younger audience looking to giggle their way through the experience, oftentimes proving so obnoxiously overcompensating in their fear preparation during the preshow trailers and commercials that I wish I stayed home. So it was […]

REVIEW: Ayla [2018]

“You still see her sometimes, don’t you?” It doesn’t matter that it’s been thirty years since Elton’s (Nicholas Wilder) sister died at age four. He still sees her in the corner of his eyes, the shadows, and his mind. This sense of longing has taken hold of his actions many times throughout his life as […]