Sunday, January 24

Tag: 2019

Review: Uncle / Onkel (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Uncle / Onkel (2019)

Set in a rural farmland in a provincial Danish town, Frelle Petersen's Uncle is a placid story revolving around the rhythmic and monotonous lives as farmers in Denmark. Putting forward authenticity and closer look to the society the film attempts to portray, the director casts mostly local non-actor performers and local actors to give a real soul to the story. The pace flows leisurely, almost without any hard push to escalate, and the plot almost always over-indulges in specific moments during the daily routine of the farmers. The agricultural backdrops in the horizon looks wonderful, the sleepy town seems peaceful, but the routine sounds highly tedious; but, Petersen is eager to present the impression of living in rural Danish, his hometown, Jutland, that becomes the epicenter of the sto...
Review: Wet Season (2019) – Luang Prabang Film Festival 2020
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Wet Season (2019) – Luang Prabang Film Festival 2020

Back from the Camera d'Or 2013 winner, Ilo Ilo, Singaporean director, Anthony Chen returns with a similarly bittersweet, yet forgivable melodrama which picks on contemporary problem in Singapore in Wet Season. Set during the soaking monsoon season that drenches almost mercilessly, Chen puts forward his observations of Singapore's blindspots and weaves it into the story of a lonesome teacher and an abandoned teenager. Reuniting his previous film's leads, Yeo Yann Yann and Koh Jia Ler, the narrative observes their respective loneliness before finding a little sunshine in each other amidst the rainy days. (more…)
Review: The Long Walk (2019) – Luang Prabang Film Festival 2020
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: The Long Walk (2019) – Luang Prabang Film Festival 2020

Laotian first and only female director, Mattie Do, rewards those who patiently follows the tangled story in her latest feature, The Long Walk, written by her frequent collaborator, Christopher Larsen. Her film dives deep into a rural Laos village, intertwines a chilling yet barely scary ghost story with time-travel tropes, and presents it with an art-house sensitivity. The connection between one element and the others isn't always bleak and the whole plot demands commitment as well as full, undivided attention; but, when the dots are connected, the rewards paid off. (more…)
Review: Corpus Christi (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Corpus Christi (2019)

Corpus Christi, written by 27-year-old Mateusz Pacewicz, probes a thought-provoking clerical question: what makes someone qualifies as a Catholic priest? Aside from the long seminarian study and some formal background check (this would include marital and criminal history), there's almost no natural qualification to deem someone a priest material. There's this priesthood vocation—some sort of God's call for someone to shepherd the churches—plays part in the making of a priest. But, what if someone hears and answers to the divine vocation but, according to historical record on paper, is ineligible to become a priest? (more…)
Review: Cleaners (2019)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Cleaners (2019)

Glenn Barit makes a visually ambitious anthology about the life of high schoolers in a provincial Filipino town in Cleaners. Revolving around a group of classmates in a Catholic high school, the narrative branches out into 4 chapters—each centers around different teen angsts—with a prologue and an epilogue that converge the stories together. The nostalgic atmosphere thickens as the narrative begins observing relatable high school moments—from extracurricular ambition, innocent romance, to identity crisis—acted by non-actor performers adding unforeseeable authenticity to the already grounded stories. (more…)
Review: Just 6.5 (2019)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Just 6.5 (2019)

Peyman Moaadi (A Separation, The Night Of) stars alongside Navid Muhammadzadeh (Life and a Day) in this Iranian crime story about drug trades and the harrowing law that follows in Just 6.5 by Saeed Roustayi. Starting out with a fast-paced, neatly choreographed alley chase and concluding with a bone-chilling, man-cry ordeal, Roustayi's clear-cut action thriller with open-ended morality doesn't want to give peace in the audiences' mind—with bitter, almost sympathetic feeling lingers after almost every important conclusion in this story. With slick set pieces that draw comparisons to Hollywood's finest ones blended in with close observations of Iranian law system, making a referential gesture to political crime movie like Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, this is the kind of crime movie that won'...
Review: John Denver Trending (2019)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: John Denver Trending (2019)

When the internet was first introduced in the Philippines in 1994, nobody would have thought that, at least two decades later, its widespread impact would be massive and life-changing. Nobody would have imagined that an ordinary teenager from a farming village in a rural provincial area would become a nationwide, online sensation overnight. Everything about him becomes a trending topic; even people would want the president to know about him—but not for any good reason, any good cause, or any good aftermath. (more…)
Review: My Extraordinary Summer with Tess (2019)
Movie Review

Review: My Extraordinary Summer with Tess (2019)

It's a summer holiday in a sea-surrounded Dutch island. A 10-year-old boy, Sam (Sonny van Utteren), overthinking the possibility that she might someday the last surviving member of his family, is preparing for the worst. During Sam's trial for loneliness, he encounters the manic pixie 11-yearl-old girl, Tess (Josephine Arendsen), who somehow prepares for the best. Gradually, things start to move on to quite an unpredictable direction for both prepubescent children and that titular, extraordinary summer is about to unravel. (more…)
Review: Roh / Soul (2019)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Roh / Soul (2019)

Unlike most horrors from the regions, Malaysia's submission for the 93rd Academy Awards, Roh (a.k.a. Soul), is a kind of horror that favor creeping atmosphere and a storm of uncertainty to deliver the scare. It's only the second film by Kuman Pictures—an indie studio focusing on low-budget horror—and the directorial debut for Emir Ezwan (previously known as visual effect supervisor for One Two Jaga). However, this folk horror shows prominent composure and confidence in delivering an unlikely horror story that effectively works on several layers at once. (more…)
Review: Martin Eden (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Martin Eden (2019)

Pietro Marcello's adaptation of Jack London's 1909 novel, Martin Eden, exudes retro-beauty of Southern Italy's labor circles, even when the original setting is in the Southern coastal of America. An essential criticism towards early 20th century socialism from a socialist, the story of Martin Eden is almost proverbially biographical and contextual from an American point of view. Marcello, transferring the setting to Naples, wraps the theme with historical aesthetics and the country's long history of socialism—that came thicker than the American counterpart. (more…)
A Season with: Younger (2015 – 2019)
TV Series

A Season with: Younger (2015 – 2019)

Coming from the vision of Sex and the City creator, creator, Younger almost breathes the same air as the cult series in celebrating the agelessness and complexity of adult life. Constructed as a single-camera sitcom, the series—which has ventured for six seasons (all are available at Mola TV) going to seven—peels off the meaning of growing up and restructures as a question. What if people can deceive adultness? By acting like a younger version of herself, the protagonist tries to deconstruct adulthood and exploits it for her own sake. (more…)
Review: Little Joe (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Little Joe (2019)

Jessica Hausner (Lourdes, Amour Fou) delivers a high-concept sci-fi horror that could have been a decent prequel/spin-off of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening. With premise that sounds closely grounded to the reality—about commodification of plants to produce new breeds that defy the ordinary, Little Joe offers a grounded approach to the storytelling as well. There's no spectacle nor explicit horror on the go, but the tension is real, built only by raising suspicions. (more…)
Review: Proxima (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Proxima (2019)

It's been awhile since we saw Eva Green portrays a humane character—an ordinary woman with feelings and emotions—unlike her recent forays into peculiar figures. Her newly-found duty as Tim Burton's second-generation muse (following the steps of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter) has somehow overshadowed Green's capability to channel subtle emotion into a rare full-on charm. Only when she's made a return to her home country, France, and worked with promising writer-director, Alice Winocour (Augustine, Mustang), she adeptly showcases the penchant she rarely showcases as in Proxima. (more…)
Review: Color Out of Space (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Color Out of Space (2019)

Richard Stanley is no strange figure for mind-bending B-movies inspired by classic sci-fi literature. His last tenure, the beleaguered The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)—in which troubled productions got him fired by New Line Cinema—is an adaptation of H.G. Wells' early classic sci-fi horror of the same title. It took him at least 20 years for him to bounce back from that disastrous experience before he began conceiving another classic sci-fi horror, The Color Out of Space by H.P. Lovecraft. With panache reminiscing his early works in Hardware and Dust Devil as well as Nicolas Cage's newly-found B-movie charisma, Color Out of Space gives Stanley the well-deserved come-back. (more…)
Review: Waiting for the Barbarians (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Waiting for the Barbarians (2019)

On paper, Waiting for the Barbarians seems like a noble cause. Adapted from the novel of the same title by Nobel Prize recipient, J.M. Coetzee, this anti-colonialism story is point-blank endearing thematically. With Colombian director, Ciro Guerra whose anti-colonialism work, Embrace the Serpent, got nominated in the 88th Academy Awards and Hollywood A-listers, including Oscar winner, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), in the leading role, it's almost safe to say the formula should have worked. And yet, the end-product staggers between the blockbuster ambition and its contemplative nature. (more…)

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