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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REVIEW: El Agente Topo [The Mole Agent] [2020]

But don’t make that spy expression. After spending four months alone since his wife passed, Sergio Chamy is ready for change. Did he or his children think that meant the eighty-year-old would answer an ad in the paper to infiltrate a nursing home and spy on its employees to discover whether or not elder abuse was occurring? Not even remotely. That the private investigator (Romulo Aitken) who hires him on behalf of a client (who suspects her mother is being mistreated and robbed) has to teach Sergio how to use…

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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: White Eye [2021]

I’m telling you it’s my bike. It’s one thing to create a morality play that teaches its lesson while leaving everyone better people by the end, but it’s another to create one that actually maintains authenticity. Because let’s face it: lessons often come at a price. And when said lesson involves the police, that price can be a lot steeper than you may have assumed. We therefore know things will most likely devolve the moment Omer (Daniel Gad) calls them to deal with his situation on the record because their…

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REVIEW:The Present [2021]

I have my daughter with me. It’s easy for oppressive regimes to call their opposition terrorists when they have all the control. Wherever you may reside (look at the difference in rhetoric between how the American GOP described BLM protestors during the summer and white insurrectionists during the winter), power always breeds injustice. And it isn’t simply through action either. Some of the worst cases of exploitation and discrimination occur through inaction thanks to rules and regulations that allow humanity to be removed from the equation altogether. That’s why their…

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REVIEW: Colette [2020]

I won’t ever be the same. It’s been over seventy years since Colette Marin-Catherine‘s brother Jean-Pierre was arrested in France and deported to the German concentration camp where he would later die. You can’t blame her for never wanting to go to see the site considering the anguish she’s dealt with in the aftermath and knowing the ways in which such places of abject horror have become tourist attractions in the decades since. As a so-called “woman who doesn’t cry,” it was thus an impossibility to deal with the emotions…

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REVIEW: Do Not Split [2020]

Good guys don’t join the police. It’s hardly a new concept. If you start to blame people for something they aren’t doing, there’s a good chance they’ll start doing it. This is true for teenagers accused of trouble during school wondering what the point of being good is if they’ll just be blamed for being bad anyway and it’s true for peaceful protestors constantly getting confronted by armed police treating them like they are violent rioters by default. What choice do they therefore have besides becoming exactly that to survive?…

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REVIEW: Hunger Ward [2021]

What they all have in common is malnutrition and heartbreak. It shouldn’t be surprising that Skye Fitzgerald‘s documentary short Hunger Ward proves a tough watch considering many in America and Europe are unaware of the tragedy unfolding in Yemen despite its 2014 origins. We’re talking about the worst famine in one hundred years ignited by a civil war that those knowledgeable of the conflict say is really an offshoot of a bigger one between Saudi Arabia (who supports the former government) and Iran (who supports the rebel government that has…

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REVIEW: バトル・ロワイアル [Batoru rowaiaru] [Battle Royale] [2000]

It’s not my fault. The idea that a totalitarian government would target children as a means to subdue opposition wasn’t a far-fetched concept even before such YA-fare like The Hunger Games arrived over a decade later. You don’t have to look further than twentieth century wars wherein teens were drafted to serve as cannon fodder while the adults in charge sought to destroy the world. Transform draft dodgers during Vietnam into bratty fifteen-year-old punks rebelling against high school authority and you have your unwitting band of so-called “disrespectful counter-culture” types…

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REVIEW: Quo vadis, Aida? [2020]

We just need to stick together. Some stories don’t leave room for a hero even if they provide ample opportunity for one to enter. And when it comes to the 1995 Bosnian genocide that occurred in the town of Srebrenica at the hands of the Serbian army, there’s hardly room for hope let alone saviors. With over eight thousand men murdered while the UN and the world looked on, what is truly left but mourning and memorial? What is there to say besides the truth of its horrors so that…

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