REVIEW: L’eau froide [Cold Water] [1994]

“Extravagant maneuvers” Originally envisioned as a 52-minute chapter of a television anthology series with strict thematic and contextual rules, Olivier Assayas‘ L’eau froide [Cold Water] eventually found itself as the much sought-after 90-minute Cannes debut that cemented the auteur’s style, acclaim, and promise without ever reaching American shores due to lapsed music rights. He would […]

REVIEW: Un beau soleil intérieur [Let the Sunshine In] [2017]

“Being a backstreet lover is just unbearable” Is love all consuming? Or disposable? If you discover it’s one above the other, how do you know you’re right? The answer is simple: love is whatever you need it to be for yourself. Don’t compromise your happiness or comfort. Don’t allow your beau to walk over your […]

REVIEW: La Ciénaga [2001]

“Get me some ice” The debut feature from Argentinian writer/director Lucrecia Martel is entitled La Ciénaga or The Swamp in English. That’s a name no American circa 2018 can read without conjuring allusions to the Donald Trump campaign motto “Drain the Swamp”. And it’s not a superficial thought either once you start to meet the […]

REVIEW: Laskovoe bezrazlichie mira [The Gentle Indifference of the World][2018]

“Only love is real” Sometimes it isn’t enough to simply portray the type of eternal love that Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet. Watching two star-crossed lovers attempt to fight the injustices of this world to be together only to sacrifice themselves can still ring hollow because it’s hinged upon the naiveté of children not […]

REVIEW: Le Redoutable [Godard Mon Amour] [2017]

“I was lucky enough to admire my lover” We’re introduced to Emile (Marc Fraize) halfway through Michel Hazanavicius‘ Le Redoubtable [Godard Mon Amour]. He’s a local Frenchman with a car and the means to procure enough gas to drive an argumentative Jean-Luc Godard (Louis Garrel), his wife Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin), and their friends (Micha […]

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: 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 […]

REVIEW: Incubo sulla città contaminata [Nightmare City] [1980]

“That sounds like science fiction” There’s a scene between Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) and his wife Anna (Laura Trotter) about two-thirds of the way through Umberto Lenzi‘s Incubo sulla città contaminate [Nightmare City] where they speak about the perils of technology. After an hour of murder, death, and exposed breasts, suddenly the screenwriters decide to […]

REVIEW: 大鱼海棠 [Dayu haitang] [Big Fish & Begonia] [2016]

“Without happiness, what’s the meaning of longevity?” In 2004, directors Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang created a Flash animation for an online contest. From there they would expand it into a feature length film steeped in Chinese supernatural legend. And despite some funding snags over its twelve-year production schedule, 大鱼海棠 [Dayu haitang] [Big Fish & […]

REVIEW: Aala Kaf Ifrit [Beauty and the Dogs] [2017]

“What law forbids a human being from seeing a doctor?” Fear should never be underestimated as a means for oppression or motivation because there are few emotions more potent. This is why totalitarian regimes use it as a weapon to silence those who dare find the courage to stand up for their rights. They sow […]