FANTASIA18 REVIEW: 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか? [Uchiage hanabi, shita kara miru ka? Yoko kara miru ka?] [Fireworks] [2017]

“If …” In a nation of repressed emotions, three young teens find themselves confronting their feelings at what might be their last opportunity to do so. Shy Norimichi (Masaki Suda) can’t stop himself from starring at Nazuna (Suzu Hirose) while his more confident best friend Yûsuke (Mamoru Miyano) admits to wanting to declare his love […]

REVIEW: The Virgin Suicides [2000]

“Obviously, Doctor, you’ve never been a 13-year-old girl” With all the accolades bestowed upon writer/director Sofia Coppola these past two decades, only an idiot would question her worth by saying she’s little more than her Hollywood royalty name. Those who said it back in 1999 as her debut feature The Virgin Suicides made the festival […]

REVIEW: Siberia [2018]

“So sorry for the bird” The question is asked with a wry grin, but Katya (Ana Ularu) isn’t wrong to joke that the mysterious, handsome American who walked into her small Siberian town’s café is a spy. Any other film besides Matthew Ross‘ Siberia would have made Lucas Hill (Keanu Reeves) exactly that—especially now with […]

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: Book Club [2018]

“Sex must not be taken off the table” Besides the numerous raunchy one-liners spoken by the central quartet of aging stars for easy laughs, there’s one short passage from Fifty Shades of Grey that’s actually read onscreen. It comes courtesy of Candice Bergen‘s Sharon and deals with the inexplicable decision to arouse Anastasia Steele with […]

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: Medicine for Melancholy [2009]

“It’s funny cause it’s not funny” We meet Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Joanne (Tracey Heggins) without any context beyond the obvious fact that they slept together the night before. They’ve awakened in someone else’s bed, eventually taking turns in the bathroom to brush their teeth with their fingers. She seems embarrassed, covering up and staying […]

REVIEW: Love, Simon [2018]

“You’re still you” There have been crazier premises for coming-of-age romantic comedies than having the lead fall in love via email with someone they’re afraid they’ll never meet. Unrequited love is nothing new to the genre and neither is an escalating series of mishaps and intentionally misleading manipulation on behalf of the lead towards his […]

REVIEW: November [2017]

“The two of you with your frozen souls” What is the point of having a soul if everyone around you doesn’t? I think that’s the central question asked by Rainer Sarnet‘s November, a bleakly told Estonian fairy tale tragedy adapted from Andrus Kivirähk‘s novel Rehepapp. At its core is romance—the kind based in unrequited love […]

REVIEW: Entanglement [2018]

“Just let go” We’ve all asked the question: “What does our life mean?” Some of us do so out of curiosity, some out of boredom, and others from a place of desperation. Ben Layten (Thomas Middleditch) falls in the latter category after the wife he loved so deeply for many years leaves him for another […]

REVIEW: Ava [2017]

“They won’t spoil our summer” Knowing your sight will leave you prematurely is a tough pill to swallow. Being told at age thirteen that the process had sped up to the point where all night vision would be gone by summer’s end is nothing short of devastating. Unfortunately this is the news Ava (Noée Abita) […]