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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REVIEW: Les misérables [2019]

Never sorry. Always right. You have to give Ladj Ly credit for seeing the potential in expanding his acclaimed short film about a trio of Anti-Crime Brigade cops outside of Paris in Montfermeil while also knowing it wasn’t perfect. There was a lot packed into Les misérables that could use some room to breathe, but the narrative itself needed tweaking too since the character he and co-writer Alexis Manenti chose to have a horrific mistake the first time around wasn’t necessarily the correct one. So the two joined with Giordano…

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REVIEW: Les misérables [2017]

We’ll shake down Cosette. How do toxic traits shared by plenty of police officers around the world (they exist regardless of whether they’re exceptions or the rule depending on your viewpoint) manifest? Is the attitude that your fraternity trumps abuse taught? Or is it learned? Because we want to believe that this brotherhood only goes so far as protecting a compatriot from the collective danger they face together every time they walk the streets. To continually watch it spill over into this prevalently unwritten code of protecting them from the…

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SUNDANCE20 REVIEW: And Then We Danced [2019]

It’s the spirit of our nation. To be a Georgian male is to be masculine—especially in dance. Merab’s (Levan Gelbakhiani) teacher Aleko (Kakha Gogidze) demands that he stand straighter and stronger, a monument that can withstand any blow. While his country’s aesthetic had allowed for a softer tone, conservative tradition prevailed a half century ago to move things back to the rigid separation of gendered movement and the complete erasure of sexuality. How Aleko’s dancers perform becomes a visual metaphor for their nation. It will not be defeated. It will…

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REVIEW: Mémorable [Memorable] [2019]

Don’t let go of me. Animation allows an artist so much more room to breathe than live action—especially when confronted by issues we can’t see with the naked eye. Bruno Collet‘s topic is dementia and his short film Mémorable [Memorable] depicts it with a stunning beauty via post-modern styles. As Louis’ (André Wilms) falls further behind reality, his view of the world gradually degrades into visions of melting objects (surrealism), disfigured visages (cubism), and a decrease in detail until he himself becomes smoothed out along the edges (impressionism). He begins…

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REVIEW: Saria [2019]

No more stupid questions about love. Tragedy struck the Guatemalan orphanage Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home in March of 2017 as forty-one teenage girls perished as a result of a preventable situation. Some survived to tell their side of the story: the rampant physical and sexual abuse by their custodians, the protests and attempted escape leading to their quarantine, and the possibilities of how the fire that killed their compatriots began. Writer/director Bryan Buckley has taken these accounts and the establishment’s history to weave a gritty drama out of…

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REVIEW: Nefta Football Club [2019]

I’m going to piss in Algeria. Two men (Lyès Salem‘s Salim and Hichem Mesbah‘s Ali) are searching for a mule. Two boys (Eltayef Dhaoui‘s Mohamed and Mohamed Ali Ayari‘s Abdallah) are on their way to a makeshift desert soccer field to have a match with the friends when they come across the animal standing on the Tunisian/Algerian border. Mohamed doesn’t have time to deal with his little brother’s excitement at finding the surreal scenario that is an abandoned mule listening to music through headphones, but he checks what’s in the…

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REVIEW: Sister [2019]

She was an annoying little baby. Looking back on a life growing up with a sister four years the lead’s junior, Siqi Song‘s animated short Sister starts off with a wonderful comedic streak. She lets the character’s imagination run away with his memories so that the crying baby who stole his toys can become a giant consuming them with a giggle. There’s the more authentically drawn cause and effect of sibling chaos sometimes confusing a parent into punishing the wrong child and the silly adventures undertaken when both are too…

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REVIEW: Brotherhood [2019]

Promise me that you’ll never go there. Terrorism is a complex topic too many gloss over in a desire to pretend it’s simple. We generalize and make blanket declarations against an enemy all while refusing to even attempt to understand where they’re coming from. So we of course would never accept the reality that it’s often our own actions that ultimately ignite theirs. It’s why Zionists in Israel label Palestinians terrorists despite being the ones who stole their land. It’s why Americans adopt xenophobic ideologies that lump good people in…

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REVIEW: Une soeur [A Sister] [2019]

I remember. A woman (Selma Alaoui‘s Alie) is the passenger inside a car heading down a dark road at night. She tells the driver (Guillaume Duhesme‘s Dary) that she must call her sister (who is currently babysitting her daughter) after missing multiple messages. It only makes sense then that she’d be worried about the urgency to connect. What we soon discover, however, is that the woman on the other end of the phone isn’t a relative. Alie has actually called emergency services to covertly make an operator (Veerle Baetens) aware…

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REVIEW: Life Overtakes Me [2019]

We hadn’t told them. Directors John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson‘s documentary Life Overtakes Me is a call to action. Where many films revolving around ailments seek to provide answers, this one hopes for recognition and subsequent research necessary to find solutions. The reason is simple: nobody knows the underlying truths behind Resignation syndrome. All we know for certain is that it’s real, occurs at an extremely high rate in Sweden, and is growing internationally. The latter comes as no surprise considering our world has been growing more and more insular…

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