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: Feeling Through [2021]

U OK? If writer/director Doug Roland isn’t careful, his short film Feeling Through might find itself diminishing the plight of the homeless simply by comparing someone living that experience with someone who is “worse off.” That’s the inherent danger of sentences like “Someone always has it worse.” While meant to be emboldening, these sentiments sometimes forget how your suffering is also real. So rather than focus on the differences separating a man who’s desperate to find a couch to crash on for the night like Tereek (Steven Prescod) and a…

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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: Two Distant Strangers [2020]

I think I just had the craziest, realist dream. You can’t read the synopsis for Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe‘s short film Two Distant Strangers and not think about The Obituary of Tunde Johnson—if you’ve seen it. Both utilize a time-loop scenario wherein their lead Black character is stuck in a never-ending cycle of police brutality always ending up with him shot dead. The difference between the two ends up being the fact that Free and Roe have less time to work with and thus less room to let…

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REVIEW: The Letter Room [2021]

I didn’t write him to get letters back. The fact that we’re being asked to sympathize with a man working as a corrections officer on death row isn’t lost on writer/director Elvira Lind. If anything, she wants us to make certain we acknowledge the moral disparity that exists so that we realize Richard (Oscar Isaac) is an exception and perhaps an answer to so much of what’s wrong with our current prison system. What he learns in The Letter Room is what too many in his position refuse to believe:…

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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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