IFFR21 REVIEW: Death on the Streets [2021]

You know we’re here. There’s a question looming above the entirety of European Johan Carlsen‘s film about a self-destroyed American man entitled Death on the Streets: Is Kurt (Zack Mulligan, one of three subjects from Bing Liu‘s Minding the Gap delivering his acting debut) a failure? To anyone who sees his life with wife Sarah (Katie Folger), two young sons, and an expansive (albeit intrusive) support system, the answer is a resounding “No.” To Kurt himself, however, there’s zero wiggle room when it comes to believing the opposite. He’s allowed…

Read More

BERLINALE21 REVIEW: Tabija [The White Fortress] [2021]

Something always comes up. The line between fairy tale and horror proves a thin one in Igor Drljaca‘s Tabija [The White Fortress] thanks to the differing perspectives of young love in Sarajevo. Whether Faruk (Pavle Cemerikic) and Mona (Sumeja Dardagan) believe a life together may yet be possible for them despite coming from opposite social and economic worlds doesn’t factor in because they’re just teenagers buckling under the pressure of outside forces that refuse to let them be free. So while the idea of a happily ever after is nice…

Read More

BERLINALE21 REVIEW: La Mif [The Fam] [2021]

We’re a fam now. The big draw to Fred Baillif‘s fictional look inside a residential care facility housing teenage girls is the fact that he refuses to pretend his setting is anything more than a “safe space.” It’s a place to find separation from whatever heinous environment they’ve left and begin the healing process. Some will inevitably be sent back to the place they sought to escape. Some will remain until their eighteenth birthday and suddenly have to figure out what it means to live alone. And no matter how…

Read More

SLAM21 REVIEW: Nulle trace [No Trace] [2021]

What would I gain? Not knowing is the point. At least that’s what writer/director Simon Lavoie says in his director’s notes for Nulle trace [No Trace]. He’s not looking to create a film with narrative propulsion or mainstream appeal within an industry he’s actively seeking to rebel against. He instead wants to go back to the art by engaging audiences with form, sensory input, and ideas. Lavoie’s goal is to therefore embrace an unspoken “pact” with viewers that allows for a benefit of the doubt where understanding and intent are…

Read More

SUNDANCE21 REVIEW: In the Earth [2021]

You worried she’s going to get you? There’s a shared ambition during times like worldwide pandemics and it’s to find meaning in the chaos. We need to figure out cause and composition in order to create a solution, but there’s also a necessity for comprehension insofar as abetting the anxiety that inevitably rises from the moment’s uncertainty. Some of us go straight to the science as a result, (How bad is it? What can we do to stay safe? Who’s at a higher risk?), while others search their souls through…

Read More

DOCNYC20 REVIEW: 76 Days [2020]

I want to say goodbye for the last time. Despite all the conjecture about Wuhan being some backwoods Chinese town where people eat bats, reality reveals that it’s the capital and largest city of the Hubei Province. More than that, it’s also the ninth most populated city in the entire nation. Shutting it down on January 23, 2020 wasn’t therefore easily done, but it was an absolute necessity to try and combat the COVID-19 outbreak that was well on its way to becoming uncontrollable. People were dying. Hospitals were being…

Read More

DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Five Years North [2020]

The laws have to change. The American immigration system is broken. We can argue about how and where all we want, but that simple fact should be something for which both sides of the political aisle can agree. Have things gotten worse since Republicans took over the Senate in 2015? You bet. That should be a universal truth too once you look into policy changes that have spiraled towards crimes against humanity status ever since Donald Trump entered the White House. Suddenly a nation that opened its arms to refugees…

Read More

ANOMALY20 REVIEW: The Last Blockbuster [2020]

I miss it like crazy. We were a Blockbuster family. I don’t mean that because we had the gold membership card allowing us to rent any old DVD for free with the purchase of a new release or that we’d go at least once a week while working a drop-box drive-by into our regular schedule. No, that label was earned back when VHS was king and the best way to not have to constantly buy new VCRs was acquiring a rewinding machine instead. We’d watch our rentals, pop them in…

Read More

ANOMALY20 REVIEW: Gremlins: A Puppet Story [2020]

Ha! Forgetting about the man-hours that go into a film production before the cameras start rolling is something many of us do. People do so where it concerns art and labor in most fields because it’s easier to reduce finished products to the “genius” or “talent” of a creator than fathom the work that actually goes into making those indelible traits possible. So watching an Oscar-winning make-up/special effects artist like Chris Walas go through the process of advancing from reading a script that seemed impossible to bring to fruition to…

Read More

ANOMALY20 REVIEW: Schlaf [Sleep] [2020]

Am I awake? The nightmares are never-ending for Marlene (Sandra Hüller). One second she’s watching television with her daughter Mona (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and the next finds her screaming in the dark, desperate to grab hold of a bedside journal with which to draw what she’s seen. It’s a house she can’t recall visiting. It’s a suicide by hanging, a suicide by rifle, and a suicide by blade. Over and over the images flicker upon her eyelids because the drugs offer little reprieve. If not for leafing through an on-board…

Read More

ANOMALY20 REVIEW: De kuthoer [The Columnist] [2019]

Here’s to life. Never read the comments—a universal rule for all writers who publish, share, or create on the internet. No matter what you say or how you say it, there will always be a troll ready to disparage your work or you personally. They don’t need a reason beyond their ability to do so. They don’t need a salient point either. And it’s precisely because they possess neither that they ultimately live rent-free inside the minds of everyone they attack with artificial anonymity. One doesn’t even have to read…

Read More