REVIEW: Hooligan Sparrow [2016]

“Hey Principal: get a room with me and leave the kids alone!” First-time director Nanfu Wang‘s documentary Hooligan Sparrow proves how a single piece of paper explaining a child’s rights can cause a ripple within a sea of oppression and catalyze justice. That document came from the hand of Wang Yu, a lawyer who followed […]

REVIEW: 悲兮魔兽 [Bei xi mo shou] [Behemoth] [2016]

“A land of deathly silence” There’s just one thing missing from Liang Zhao‘s visually masterful documentary 悲兮魔兽 [Bei xi mo shou] [Behemoth] and it’s a before image of what this wasteland of coal and rock used to be before God’s beast was unleashed. This creature—as represented by the industrial machine—devours the mountains of Mongolia, exploding […]

SUNDANCE17 REVIEW: Axolotl Overkill [2017]

“Can you drown in the gene pool?” Playwright, author, screenwriter, and director Helene Hegemann has said (through her publisher) that, “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity.” The words were spoken after her debut novel Axolotl Roadkill earned critical praise, a spot as a finalist for a major book award, and multiple, potentially […]

REVIEW: 君の名は。 [Kimi no na wa.] [Your Name.] [2016]

“That day when the stars came falling” I had no idea what to expect upon sitting down to 君の名は。[Kimi no na wa.] [Your Name.] and the first few minutes definitely had my head spinning. We’re ushered in via the voiceover narration of two high schoolers we’ve yet to properly meet in Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) and […]

REVIEW: فروشنده [Forushande] [The Salesman] [2016]

“For once it looks like we’re in luck” There’s this notion that tragedy won’t happen to us. It’s for people who don’t live their lives correctly—some karmic retribution paying for mistakes made along the way. We like to believe we’re different whether such a belief is deserved or not. So when something does occur, only […]

REVIEW: Neruda [2016]

“He’s the king of love” Pablo Neruda was a Chilean legend. He was a poet who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971, a diplomat holding multiple posts including that of Senator for the Communist Party, and ultimately so feared by President González Videla and President Augusto Pinochet that his death is rumored to […]

REVIEW: Elle [2016]

“It was necessary” Director Paul Verhoeven has made a career of pushing the envelope whether through violence, sex, politics, or all three wrapped together. It’s hardly surprising then that his buzzword of choice on the promotional trail for his latest Elle has been “controversial.” The word choice is appropriate considering David Birke‘s script (adapted from […]

REVIEW: L’avenir [Things to Come] [2016]

“Can we put ourselves in the place of the other” No one is making movies with as much depth of character as Mia Hansen-Løve—so much depth that you may wonder where the plot is considering everything is hinging on a single trajectory. But that’s how our lives progress. How we experience our own evolution stems […]

REVIEW: Ma vie de Courgette [My Life as a Zucchini] [2016]

“Well, I think I killed my mum” You have to respect when a story targeted towards children is allowed to possess pathos. Take Gilles Paris‘ 2002 novel Autobiographie d’une courgette for example—a 228-page piece centering on a nine-year old boy’s experience living as an orphan in France after accidentally killing his mother. This is the […]

REVIEW: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens [Nosferatu] [1922]

“Does this word not sound like the deathbird calling your name at midnight?” Every copy of F.W. Murnau‘s Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens [Nosferatu] should have been destroyed. It was with good reason too considering the German based production house Prana hired Henrik Galeen to “loosely” adapt Bram Stoker‘s Dracula without permission. The estate sued […]

REVIEW: 百日紅 [Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai] [Miss Hokusai] [2015]

“That nutty old man is my father” Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai‘s “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” series is one of my favorite works of art with “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” being its unforgettable cornerstone. Even so, I never thought to myself, “Why hasn’t anyone made a movie about his life?” If you’ve seen one […]