REVIEW: This is Congo [2018]

“The one who should keep you safe is the one who can kill you” Documentarian Daniel McCabe wastes no time getting to the point of his film This is Congo with the words of DRC National Army Colonel Mamadou Ndala. This smiling dreamer of peace and unity speaks about his home like a philosopher as […]

REVIEW: Die göttliche Ordnung [The Divine Order] [2017]

“But here at home time stood still” The opening transition from credits to film of Petra Biondina Volpe‘s Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award-winning Die göttliche Ordnung [The Divine Order] is absolute perfection. With Jo Jo Benson and Peggy Scott-Adams’ “Soulshake” playing atop images from America spanning women’s liberation, civil rights, Woodstock, and more, we begin […]

REVIEW: Das merkwürdige Kätzchen [The Strange Little Cat] [2014]

“And onions are my cats” We’ve all felt paralyzed at one time or another, fearing existence and responsibility as opposed to external forces and death. Life becomes our burden, the rote machinations to remain an upstanding member of society and the myriad social imperatives endured to be seen as a person worth ignoring—someone who neither […]

REVIEW: Visages, villages [Faces Places] [2017]

“To meet new faces and photograph them so they don’t fall down the holes in my memory” To look at some of the work of “unidentified” artist JR—giant black and white images pasted onto surfaces with a literal or figurative contextual relationship—is to see the type of community-based, socially conscious messaging Agnès Varda built a […]

REVIEW: Il conformista [The Conformist] [1970]

“Slaughter and melancholy” At one point towards the end of Bernardo Bertolucci‘s Il conformist [The Conformist], Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) turns to Manganiello (Gastone Moschin) and relays a brief synopsis of a dream. He talks about how he was a blind man who needed an operation that only his former professor (Enzo Tarascio‘s Quadri) could […]

REVIEW: Dnevnik masinovodje [Train Driver’s Diary] [2016]

“I wish you a quick first accident” Whether a result of suicide, drunken stupidity, or sheer dumb luck, train drivers the world over kill people. You’d like to believe it’s a rarity, but the truth is most likely the opposite. What then is life like for those who’ve chosen this profession? They’re constantly on alert, […]

REVIEW: Jia Nian Hua [Angels Wear White] [2018]

“There’s other ways to pay” Let’s think about the title to Vivian Qu‘s sophomore effort Jia Nian Hua [Angels Wear White] because the meaning goes far beyond the words themselves. On the surface it’s simply describing religious iconography and the idea that angels wear flowing white linens with halos on heads and harps in hands. […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Princesita [2018]

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars” Miguel (Marcelo Alonso) compares God to a fire when explaining how the ones our religions’ sacred books describe aren’t quite right. Our creator is simpler than those iterations. He has the power to turn wood into ash and water into steam. He has the power to transform. […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Vinterbrødre [Winter Brothers] [2017]

“Everyone has a little darkness in them” It opens in darkness—the beams from headlamp flashlights and sparks of metal on rock our only points of illumination. This is the oppressive environment holding the over-worked and under-paid miners while their boss sits in his factory office without a care as to who the men in his […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Of Sheep and Men [2017]

“In this country, the big fish eat the small fish” It’s the cusp of Eid in Algiers, Bab el Oued circa 2016 and the rams are running wild. Well, not wild per se considering each is bought, sold, and always owned. They seem to be a huge staple in this impoverished town as a means […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: شيخ جاكسون [Sheikh Jackson] [2017]

“You can’t guarantee living till tomorrow” The thing I could never wrap my head around religious-wise is the idea of strict right and wrong. As a Catholic it’s somewhat easy as far as sin and repentance. You’re allowed to do a lot as long as you feel remorse and guilt enough to learn your lesson. […]