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…

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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…

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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…

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REVIEW: If Anything Happens I Love You [2020]

It’s never easy to overcome immense tragedy—especially when it involves a child. We feel the obvious absence at the start of Michael Govier and Will McCormack‘s If Anything Happens I Love You through its leads’ inability to look each other in the eyes and the anger their shadowy counterparts (embodiments of their emotions) exude behind them. We receive glimpses of joy met with isolation as every attempt to remember what was fades in the second it takes to realize there’s no going back. A paint splotch on the garage and…

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REVIEW: Burrow [2020]

I said it two years ago with Kitbull and will say it again now: it’s weird to watch a Pixar production utilizing a two-dimensional, hand-drawn style after so many years of computer animation. Madeline Sharafian‘s Burrow continues that trend within the Disney+ Sparkshorts series and her tale of a young rabbit looking to dig out her dream home in the dirt. There’s a Little Golden Books appeal that hit me with a ton of nostalgia as her unwavering joy is shattered by not one, but two neighbors popping their heads…

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REVIEW: Raya and the Last Dragon [2021]

Who’s hungry? As Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) states during her expository prologue to Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada‘s Raya and the Last Dragon (written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim), events that should unite us often end up doing the opposite. For the Asiatic world of Kumandra, this phenomenon occurs in the aftermath of their most dire moment once the plague known as druun (a virus-like creature that multiplies with every attack, turning living creatures into stone) is finally annihilated thanks to the bravery of a dragon named Sisu…

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REVIEW: Us Again [2021]

The jazzy notes of Pinar Toprak‘s score act as a living soundtrack to the world of Zach Parrish‘s short film Us Again with everyone inside it dancing as though they are characters in a musical. The unbridled energy and excitement are infectious with smiles from ear to ear on everyone’s faces until the camera moves into an apartment housing a grumpy old man in a recliner who can’t even be bothered to stand-up when slamming his window shut to prevent the notes outside from reaching his ears. We see from…

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REVIEW: アーヤと魔女 [Âya to majo] [Earwig and the Witch] [2020]

I shall give you the worms. Those familiar with Diana Wynne Jones‘ children’s book Âya to majo [Earwig and the Witch] will be surprised to find Gorô Miyazaki‘s cinematic adaptation beginning with a chase scene pitting a red-headed woman on a motorcycle against a yellow Citroën on her tail. They weave in and out of traffic with impossible speed and maneuvering before we see the first bit of magic used to create some extra distance. That’s when a cut occurs for us to watch the unknown redhead walk through a…

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REVIEW: World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime [2020]

Will you be the one to discover my dead body? After two introspective science fiction gems that took us on journeys of self-discovery within the subconscious, filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt decides to take World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime in a different direction. That’s not to say the third part of this series isn’t deep, though, as there’s a lot to be said about love and longing and jealousy. Rather than lean on dialogue via a brilliant back and forth between a child’s endearing innocence and…

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REVIEW: World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts [2017]

The closer I look at things, the less I know. While Third Generation Emily told Emily Prime (Winona Mae) that they wouldn’t see each other again due to the impending doom of her world, she said nothing about whether other subsequent versions of herself would. The assumption is that she’d have remembered when Emily 6 (Julia Pott) visited since the event would have been stored in her memory due to everything that happens to Emily Prime already having happened before Third Generation Emily was cloned. The occurrence wouldn’t have been…

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REVIEW: 魔女の宅急便 [Majo no takkyûbin] [Kiki’s Delivery Service] [1989]

Just follow your heart and keep smiling. Every witch upon her thirteenth birthday must leave home for a year abroad to hone her witchcraft skills. She must find a community without witches and establish herself within it via a career based in the magic she provides—through whatever form is unique to her. It’s a time for excitement and trepidation as she’s forced to advance towards adulthood extremely early with no support system but the one she hopes to uncover wherever she lands. While some surely feel a bit of both…

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