CANNES21 REVIEW: Retour A Reims [Fragments] [2021]

A war is waged on the dominated. The MIT Press describes Didier Eribon‘s book Returning to Reims as “A memoir and meditation on individual and class identity, and the forces that keep us locked in political closets.” The author never went back home upon leaving until after his father was moved to a nursing home for those afflicted by Alzheimer’s and it was only upon his return that he began to recognize the underlying factors that made its community what it became despite what it originally rose from. By looking…

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CANNES21 REVIEW: Aya [2021]

We can’t leave our sand behind. Living on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean would be a dream to many people. Not only is the view beautiful, but one’s ability to live a simple life can often be a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of a city and its potential for disaster through culture shock and excess. The unfortunate truth of the world in which we currently live, however, is that nothing is simple anymore. Climate change has rendered coastal towns like the one in which Aya (Marie-Josée…

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REVIEW: Sayyedat al-Bahr [Scales] [2021]

Maybe there was another choice. To be expendable is to be replaced because those in power of the situation deem you easier to discard than protect. It’s the driving force of bigotry throughout the world on religious, racial, and gender lines because it’s predicated on the idea that one group is superior to another. And that group is allowed to dictate those terms simply because they are in control. It doesn’t matter what reasons they had for drawing the line either since the moment it appears is the moment when…

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CANNES21 REVIEW: El Empleado y El Patron [The Employer and the Employee] [2021]

I’m sorry about what happened. All relationships are to some extent transactional, but none more than that between employer and employee. One provides capital and the other labor. This dynamic would be symbiotic in a perfect world since one can’t exist without the other: a boss cannot acquire the capital necessary to run a business without workers on the ground and those workers cannot live without a job with which to earn a steady wage. Even so, the disparity between them has grown exponentially throughout the past few decades. Executives…

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CANNES21 REVIEW: Are You Lonesome Tonight? [2021]

Did you find him? Xue Ming (Eddie Peng) is in jail when we meet him. He’s talking about the boredom of living the same day repeatedly while thinking about how he got there. Deciding it’s better to show rather than tell, first-time director Shipei Wen sends us back to 1997 to find Xue on the telephone with an angry girlfriend just about fed up with waiting. It’s difficult to tell whether he’s on his way to the cinema late or simply going home when he finally leaves, but the path…

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REVIEW: Los nôtres [2021]

What are you hiding from me? It takes a village. That’s what close, tight-knit communities like Sainte-Adeline, Quebec say when asked about how they are able to confront and conquer tough circumstances. With that sense of togetherness, however, comes a cliquish sensibility of superiority. They survive because they have each other. They survive because they’re vigilant and always watching to see where and when their help is required to pick someone up. It’s how they got through a horrible construction site tragedy years prior that claimed too many friends and…

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REVIEW: La Dosis [The Dose] [2020]

Important decisions are never easy to make. Despite being a film about euthanatizing ICU nurses at a provincial hospital in Argentina, Martín Kraut‘s directorial debut La Dosis [The Dose] actually begins with a miraculous attempt to bring a patient back to life after doctors had already declared her dead. That’s the kind of man Marcos (Carlos Portaluppi) is, though. On the job for two decades and counting, he knows when someone is beyond help and when their time has yet to arrive. He therefore grabs the paddles, shocks her two…

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REVIEW: De forbandede år [Into the Darkness] [2020]

So what happens next? The irony of neutrality is that you must have a formidable army to sustain it. It’s therefore cute to watch as the aristocracy looks aghast when a foe such as Adolph Hitler comes knocking because they thought they were safe. Talk about privilege and naiveté. The people attending Karl Skov’s (Jesper Christensen) anniversary party are actually incredulous when German planes drop leaflets onto their heads. They wonder how their king could just surrender as though they ever stood a chance once Hitler began moving west and…

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REVIEW: Cliff Walkers [2021]

Everything will be fine when the sun rises. The mission: parachute into Manchukuo (an area of China under the unofficial control of Japan during the 1930s), find escaped comrade Wang, and escort him to freedom. It’s what Communist party operatives Zhang (Zhang Yi), Yu (Qin Hailu), Chuliang (Zhu Yawen), and Lan (Liu Haocun) have trained to accomplish during years spent in the USSR and they’re willing to give their lives towards that goal. It shouldn’t therefore be surprising when a last-minute order necessitates them splitting up into pairs that in…

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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…

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