REVIEW: Martin Eden [2019]

Beauty is demanding. Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli) is a man without a home. He’s too ambitious to become a working class cog with little to no room for education and he’s too much of a rugged realist to play the aristocratic elite’s hypocritical games. So the former calls him lazy. The latter calls him undeserving. And yet he somehow finds himself with a foot firmly planted in both worlds regardless thanks to a charming likeability that turns him into the puppy by their side that he later rails against via…

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REVIEW: Дылда [Dylda] [Beanpole] [2019]

He’ll heal us. World War II has left Stalingrad in shambles. Buildings are destroyed. Families are torn apart. And meaning has all but disappeared in the face of atrocities that won’t simply go away. The head doctor at the city’s hospital (Andrey Bykov‘s Nikolay Ivanovich) tries his best to hold morale by saying that “peace is on its way” and yet the words can’t help but feel hollow. He lost everyone in the war himself and now he’s tasked with pretending that a soldier devoid of movement anywhere but his…

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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…

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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…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Colectiv [Collective] [2020]

We’re no longer human beings. We’re of an era when everything good instills mixed feelings thanks to how far our species has fallen where the realm of empathy is concerned. It’s so demoralizing that we’ve been forced to hail those willing to do the bare minimum as heroes simply because they haven’t caved to the power of money’s so-called “great equalizer” … yet. How much buys your silence? How much for your complicity? How about your active participation? The old adage says everyone has a price because it’s very often…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Letter [2020]

Funda mkota. The subject of married directing duo Maia Lekow and Chris King‘s The Letter isn’t just one piece of correspondence. It’s instead a type that’s been gaining traction more and more in Kenya as younger generations have sought to take land from elders by way of religiously motivated murder. The way they do it is simple: declare the landowner a witch. Create a laundry list of ills, place the blame around the neck of an unsuspecting senior citizen, and threaten them with a violent end by the blade of…

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NYFF20 REVIEW: Undine [2020]

If you leave, you have to die. Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) laughs when Undine Wibeau (Paula Beer) tells him he can’t leave her lest she be forced to kill him. He laughs because he’s read the myth of sea nymphs sharing her name and the fate those who love them suffer if they ever betray it. That’s not how the real world works, though. Couples fall in and out of love all the time. Men don’t walk to forest lakes and scream her name to satisfy the holes in their heart…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Mandibules [Mandibles] [2020]

What’s in the suitcase? Look no further than the fact Manu (Grégoire Ludig) was given the job to know how simple it was. While he’s a guy who shouldn’t be trusted to operate heavy machinery, tasking him with the no-questions-asked delivery of a suitcase shouldn’t be far-fetched—especially not when he’ll be given a decent payday for his trouble. Manu needs that money too. He’s lost his home and sleeps wrapped up in a blanket on the beach way too close to the water. Any little bit therefore helps and procuring…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Jumbo [2020]

What is it if it isn’t love? Jeanne Tantois (Noémie Merlant) has never been one for people. Besides her mother Margarette (Emmanuelle Bercot) and co-worker Fati (Tracy Dossou), she’d avoid talking to them all. You can’t blame her for this attitude considering what so many do the moment they witness her shyly eccentric demeanor. She closes her eyes in a wince when someone gets too close and they almost always come back with a chuckle or unoriginal playacting of being “scary.” They mock her, ridicule her, and laugh rather than…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Dasatskisi [Spring Blossom] [2020]

I’d give everyone a five. How do you know a relationship sparked with another is truly love and not merely the absence of the listlessness you felt before its creation—a mere distraction? The answer is probably a simple case of seeing with objective eyes and feeling with an unencumbered heart, but those aren’t easy things to possess while the excitement of the moment remains fresh. So sixteen-year old Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) will continue longing for the serious stranger standing outside the theater on her way to school regardless. And thirty-five-year…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Druk [Another Round] [2020]

Have I become boring? If you find yourself needing to latch onto an obscure scientific theory to reinvigorate your energy level and live your life as more than a sleepwalking zombie, you’re probably not ready to actually confront the real problem. We know this to be true of the quartet at the center of Thomas Vinterberg‘s Druk [Another Round] since our first impression of Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), and, especially, Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is that they have lost their spark. Sexually, intellectually, physically, emotionally—whatever…

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