REVIEW: Su ren te gong [The Rookies] [2019]

Every battle needs a theme song. I should have known better considering I’ve seen two Alan Yuen films before: a directorial effort in Firestorm that forgets its unwavering severity in the third act to deliver farcical chaos and a screenwriting effort in Monster Hunt wherein the lead is a pregnant man with the salvation of monster-kind cooking in his belly. I should have known the American trailer for his latest work Su ren te gong [The Rookies] was manipulated beyond its desire to pretend Milla Jovovich was its star. While…

Read More

REVIEW: Moffie [2020]

You are no longer someone. There’s no better propaganda machine than the military. But while that institution generally wields its power upon those who willingly embrace its messaging, not every country relies on volunteers to fill their ranks. For countries like South Africa during Apartheid, conscription became a way to retain white minority control. Why? Because it ensured that every able white male would receive a steady dose of its racist and bigoted rhetoric for at least two years. Rather than preach to the choir, the Afrikaners could brainwash every…

Read More

REVIEW: The Mosquito Coast [1986]

Ice is civilization. Anyone who has lived through the COVID pandemic with a MAGA-touting Trump lover in the family knows Allie Fox (Harrison Ford): a man so crippled by inadequacy and fear that he’ll twist himself into a pretzel to feign righteousness. It’s therefore interesting that this character is both anti-capitalism and anti-God since those are usually the means that facilitate that twist. But you listen to Allie’s opening rant (to his son Charlie, as played by River Phoenix, and ultimately to anyone in earshot of his intentionally sanctimonious shouting)…

Read More

REVIEW: Sugar Daddy [2021]

I have no idea what you do. It’s Darren’s (Kelly McCormack) second foray into the “paid dating” scene and her experience is already drastically different than the first. That one had her going dress shopping with an older gentleman treating her to the clothes for her trouble. This one is at a fancy restaurant with a man (Colm Feore‘s Gordon) who seems to know someone at every table on the way to hers. Where the first came with an inherent awkwardness from both parties, Gordon is nothing but confident in…

Read More

REVIEW: Honeydew [2021]

Let’s start with the nasties. It’s comforting to see the words “bizarre” and “absurd” in the press notes and director’s statement for Devereux Milburn‘s Honeydew because they prove that he understands what he’s created. When a film exudes such a self-serious tone despite possessing so many odd idiosyncrasies and wild leaps of narrative coincidence, it’s easy to think you’re laughing at the whole rather than with it. Reading those words therefore allows us to know that the artist was fully aware of that incongruous juxtaposition. It might have even been…

Read More

REVIEW: El Agente Topo [The Mole Agent] [2020]

But don’t make that spy expression. After spending four months alone since his wife passed, Sergio Chamy is ready for change. Did he or his children think that meant the eighty-year-old would answer an ad in the paper to infiltrate a nursing home and spy on its employees to discover whether or not elder abuse was occurring? Not even remotely. That the private investigator (Romulo Aitken) who hires him on behalf of a client (who suspects her mother is being mistreated and robbed) has to teach Sergio how to use…

Read More

REVIEW: Shiva Baby [2021]

No funny business. All bets are off the moment Danielle (Rachel Sennott) whisper-shouts towards her parents to find out whose shiva they are about to walk into because not being prepared enough to know who the deceased is means there’s a good chance that she won’t be prepared for some of the guests either. And while it’s one thing to see an ex (Molly Gordon‘s Maya) walking into the house before your mother tells you to keep your hands to yourself (not because she isn’t progressive enough to accept a…

Read More

REVIEW: Funny Face [2021]

Maybe I have to do more. One person’s garbage is another’s treasure … or something like that. And if Tim Sutton‘s Funny Face is any indication, there’s no place in the world who understands those sentiments more than Brooklyn, New York. Whether we’re talking about rundown homes where impoverished families survive being torn down for a shiny new parking lot or a once great basketball team making you wonder if the owners are lifelong fans of its greatest rivals desperately trying to ensure they never make the playoffs again or…

Read More

REVIEW: Já-Fólkið [Yes-People] [2020]

Life beats us all down eventually. Or, if we’re lucky, it numbs us from caring about the chaos that surrounds us. This is only too true for the inhabitants of three apartments within Gísli Darri Halldórsson‘s short film Já-Fólkið [Yes-People]. Whether it’s the senior couple at a breakfast table daring each other to blink during an impromptu “who’s most annoying” contest or a cheery mother and her morose son getting through teaching clarinet to a novice and staying awake at school respectively or a frustrated middle-aged pair who’ve turned to…

Read More

REVIEW:Genius Loci [2021]

I’m going to sit here and wait a while for a sign. With its esoteric dialogue and often cacophonic score incorporating foley sound effects with the melody that also double as the driving rhythm upon which the visuals are cut together, Adrien Merigeau‘s Genius Loci (co-written by Nicolas Pleskof) eschews traditional narrative for a beat poet aesthetic that embraces disorder on a journey through time and space. Reine (Nadia Moussa) is at once present in her sister’s apartment (watching a pot boil over upon the stove while simultaneously watching a…

Read More

REVIEW: Opera [2021]

With a triangular structure composed of about one hundred different individual compartments that all connect via a religiously, bureaucratically, and militarily closed-loop ecosystem, it is impossible to fully comprehend everything that’s going on in one go. Erick Oh‘s Opera therefore becomes more a treatise on society’s ills, aspirations, failings, and successes than a narrative with A to B propulsion as a result, its infinite cycle of night and day (as dictated by an hourglass turn) becoming a nightmarish depiction of the nine circles of Hell as much as the faith-based…

Read More