BERLINALE18 REVIEW: Cobain [2018]

“My little man” There’s a scene in Nanouk Leopold‘s Cobain where the titular fifteen year-old (Bas Keizer) tells his estranged, junkie mother Mia (Naomi Velissariou) that he wants to help. Her response is to ask whether she cares about what he does, the answer tragically understood before his mouth utters the word “No.” To watch […]

REVIEW: Aus dem Nichts [In The Fade] [2017]

“Don’t ever say that about my husband” Writer/director Fatih Akin makes sure we get a sense of the potentially volatile world he’s created (with co-writer Hark Bohm) from the first frame of Aus dem Nichts [In the Fade]. It starts with a handheld video recording of a wedding wherein the groom (Numan Acar‘s Nuri Sekerci) […]

REVIEW: Schlafkrankheit [Sleeping Sickness] [2011]

“My fate is in your hands” Is colonialism dead? It’s a question for which you would instantly answer “No” and yet still wonder if perhaps such a binary response is too simplistic. You would have to define colonialism and whether or not actual, recognized control of a land is the same as a more insidious […]

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 […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Licht [Mademoiselle Paradis] [2017]

“If you cannot see, you are not seen” Maria Theresia von Paradis was the daughter of Empress Maria Theresa’s Court Councilor and thus a young woman of standing despite the blindness that took her eyes before the age of five. Her father Joseph Anton and mother Maria Rosalia had the means to therefore teach her […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Tiere [Animals] [2017]

“Animals don’t kill themselves” Discovering that screenwriter Jörg Kalt committed suicide before bringing his script Tiere [Animals] to life adds a lot of context to how one deciphers Greg Zglinski‘s film. The director had read it the year before Kalt’s death, lauding it while on a Zurich Film Foundation committee in the hopes of helping […]

REVIEW: Jerichow [2009]

“You can’t love if you don’t have money” The titular town of Jerichow as shown onscreen by writer/director Christian Petzold is hardly one of paradise yet still very much of “home.” It’s where dishonorably discharged ex-Army man Thomas (Benno Fürmann) runs to without a word to his employer (in part due to stealing a few […]

REVIEW: Yella [2007]

“I want you to love me again” There’s a glimmer of hope in Yella Fichte’s (Nina Hoss) eye when things finally seem to be going in the right direction. She’s earned a new job starting the day after tomorrow, one that should fill her empty bank account and lead her towards prosperity. But before she […]

REVIEW: Gespenster [Ghosts] [2005]

“And I walked towards the music” Three women caught in disparate existential crises are converging in Christian Petzold‘s Gespenster [Ghosts] to seek answers despite reality only supplying opportunity to exacerbate their already volatile shortcomings. Nina (Julia Hummer) is a late-teen orphan hopeful to discover an avenue towards a brighter future that will assist her in […]

REVIEW: Der blaue Engel [The Blue Angel] [1930]

“Beware of blondes. They’re special, every one.” It was interesting to discover Josef von Sternberg‘s career started in Hollywood, directing many late-silent era pictures. I assumed the Austrian-born auteur began in Europe because he was the man behind the camera for Germany’s first feature-length talkie, Der blaue Engel [The Blue Angel]. But his helming it […]