Kantemir Balagov’s bleak, brilliant Beanpole tells a very different story about the aftermath of the Second World War than what we’re used to seeing. Few countries were more violently affected than the Soviet Union, and this tale of the effect on the postbellum populace does justice to the scars left by the conflagration. The result is an emotionally shattering portrayal of two women and their struggles to adjust to their civilian lives. Read More »
At the outset, the concept of The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is the stuff of genre genius – a hard-nosed, irascible cop and tough guy crime boss become allies to combat a shared enemy when a knife-wielding serial killer comes to town. Lee Won-tae’s film has such an extraordinary premise, ripe for exploration, that it can’t help but feel a little bit disappointing when such a relatively straightforward flick is the result. Read More »
There’s something to be said about the blissfulness of ignorance. Festivals are prime places to be able to go into a film cold, often not even knowing the title, let alone the subject and synopsis. Give me a movie and I’ll apprehend, no matter what, and hopefully find something to fall for. This rarefied way of seeing Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven proved heavenly, and there’s perhaps no better way of seeing this charming, sweet and intelligent film. Read More »
There’s something satisfyingly convoluted about Diao Yinan’s delightfully dense film The Wild Goose Lake, Cannes Film Festivalwhich recently played at the . Named after a vacation spot where the film is set, it’s a land of motorcycle thieves and bathing beauties, a criminal element living in a kind of mild truce with the local police. Read More »
I always figured there was no better case for birth control than being on a long flight with someone else’s screaming child. Vivarium ups the ante, finding domestic bliss even more harrowing in this clever yet frustrating Cannes Film Festival selection by Irish director Lorcan Finnegan. Read More »
A Portrait of a Lady on Fire is, as the title evokes, an artistically rich and provocative film out of Cannes, one where the passions and obsessions of two women ignite in ways rarely seen on screen. A tour-de-force film by director Céline Sciamma, the film is both evocative and enervating, casting a spell on the audience that feels as dreamlike as the Britany seaside location. Read More »
Mati Diop’s Atlantics is notable for a number of reasons. First, it’s the first film from a black woman to ever play in competition in the Cannes film festival, a notable achievement in and of itself. Second, it’s tied to a number of other films at this festival that twist genres, incorporating elements from horror and thriller film into what’s ostensibly a story of lost love, where the ghosts of the past continue to haunt those left behind.
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Ira Sach’s Frankie is a light, lovely film about complicated family dynamics and coming to terms with mortality. With a formidable cast anchored by Isabelle Huppert, the sun-dappled setting and multi-generational storyline makes for a relaxed, enjoyable visit with this extended onscreen family.
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For decades now, South Korea has generated some of the strongest, most original cinema in the world. With a pantheon of directors that seamlessly draw from a myriad of genres, their films manage to be deeply provocative, with grand themes and subtle character moments interspersed with broad shifts in tone. Bong Joon-ho has been celebrated for his strange and dark tales like Okja, Snowpiercer and The Host, each of them equipped with high-concept sci-fi elements that create an unsettling vision of the world. With his latest, Parasite, he shifts gears once again, creating a family drama wrapped in a grifter’s guise that’s blisteringly good.
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When even fans of contemporary Romanian cinema describe the films that achieved global appreciation from a wide swath of cineastes, “funny”, “action packed”, and “plot heavy” are not usual talking points. It’s a country that for decades has generated films that are precisely constructed by often being narratively spare, reveling in character beats and the ennui of boredom in works that stretch hours and hours. This “new wave” was embraced by the same fickle arthouse crowd that now just might find themselves thrilled by Corneliu Porumboiu’s The Whistlers, a movie that dares to pander to audiences with such proletarian incorporations like a conventional story line, echoes to Hitchcock and other trappings of genre cinema.
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