SLAM22 REVIEW: Gleich zurück [Be Right Back] [2022]

Circles everywhere. Hearing director Frauke Havemann‘s story about traveling into the woods with her dramaturg to discuss a new project at the onset of COVID-19 feels crucial to understanding the experience that she and her co-writers Peter Stamer and Matthias Wittekindt have brought to the screen with Gleich zurück [Be Right Back]. The initial sense of escapism. The inevitable introduction of that nightmare via social media and the internet. The increasing emotional uncertainty and existential crisis born from knowing you must return to the world as it’s shutting down. The…

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SLAM22 REVIEW: کشتن خواجه [Killing the Eunuch Khan] [2022]

Where is the escape? It would be a mistake to take the synopsis for Abed Abest‘s Killing the Eunuch Khan at face value because this is not a film about a serial killer in the generic sense of the word. Khan (Ebrahim Azizi) isn’t some cult leader a la Charles Manson sending his disciples out into the world to murder people in his name. He’s not a monster in the vein of Jigsaw either, entrapping victims to do his dirty work in the hope that doing so will earn them…

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SLAM22 REVIEW: Paris is in Harlem [2022]

I think she told them what they wanted to hear. Enacted during Prohibition—and the Harlem Renaissance—the New York City Cabaret Law made it so any public establishment that served food and/or drink needed a license to allow musical entertainment and dancing. Like so many similar laws (see pushes for voter ID), proponents championed the initiative as a means of “keeping the peace.” Critics conversely saw how the extra cost and sheer absurdity of its enforcement targeted businesses that were owned and frequented by marginalized groups (whether race, sexuality, etc.). And…

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SLAM22 REVIEW: Yelling Fire in an Empty Theater [2022]

Double samesies. A long-time coming fit of exasperation gets Lisa (Isadora Leiva) to ask herself the question she should have asked before leaving Florida behind: is New York City a place or just an idea? A stranger at the airport tried to prepare her for this inevitable reckoning by handing over an unsolicited fifty-dollar bill along with advice to temper expectations, but dreams aren’t so easily thrown away. This move is about hope and excitement. It’s about leaving behind the only life she’s ever known to adventure forward into a…

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SLAM22 REVIEW: Honeycomb [2022]

Do not come looking. Tired of always waiting to see what the boys want to do, five teenage girls during the summer between high school and college decide to take matters into their own hands. Why should they waste so much time playing second fiddle to Emmett (Emmett Roiko) and company’s immaturity? Why blindly accept the demands bestowed upon them by their parents through part-time jobs and curfews? Maybe they only did those things to begin with because they had no other choice. So, when Willow (Sophie Bawks-Smith) invites the…

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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…

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SLAM20 REVIEW: Film About a Father Who [2021]

He doesn’t lie. He just doesn’t tell you what’s going on. While director Lynne Sachs admits her latest documentary Film About a Father Who could be superficially construed as a portrait (the title alludes to and the content revolves around her father Ira), she labels it a reckoning instead. With thirty-five years of footage shot across varied formats and devices to cull through and piece together, the result becomes less about providing a clear picture of who this man is and more about understanding the cost of his actions. Whether…

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