Saturday, January 23

Tag: Rating: 3

Review: Babyteeth (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Babyteeth (2020)

There's something unusual in Shannon Murphy's directorial debut, Babyteeth, even when its premise about a terminally ill teenager finds a new breath in love is overly familiar, if not overused. The film, which went on winning 9 awards in Australian Academy Awards (AACTA) including Best Picture, exudes sentimentality in delivering the narrative, but never succumbs into the maudlin side-effects of it. There's little to none overindulging sappy moment even when death always lurks closely behind the protagonist's back. The story, written by Rita Kalnejais adapting her own stageplay, doesn't quite believe in seizing the day before the moment's gone forever, but it rather exuberantly celebrates what makes life worth living. (more…)
Review: Sylvie’s Love (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Sylvie’s Love (2020)

Back to New York of the 1960s era full of groove and the jazzy feelings exuding in the air, Sylvie's Love recreates the bygone era with precision—not only in look, but also in style. Presented like a Technicolor version of a black-and-white Hollywood melodrama with all the flairs and zeitgeist, this romance however takes a completely different route. It's vibrant for a reason: to defy the common portrayal of the era's main theme—a whitewashed pursuit of dream and love—with a story about Black lovers looking out for their own dream and love in a world that hasn't always been simple for them. (more…)
Review: Herself (2021)
Movie Review

Review: Herself (2021)

Director of Mamma Mia! and The Iron Lady, Phyllida Lloyd, returns with a more modest, unpretentious drama about resilience and empowerment titled Herself. Unlike his previous films, nothing is particularly spectacular about the plot or the background of the protagonist, Sandra (portrayed magnificently by Clare Dunne, who also co-write the story with Malcolm Campbell), except for her struggle and determination. The protagonist's self-emancipation is the center-piece and it's the driving force that gives herself a purpose: to provide a house for her children by herself. (more…)
Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

Viola Davis leads the band as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020). It's one of the most dogged days in Chicago, 1927. The trailblazing Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey (portrayed brilliantly and almost menacingly by Viola Davis), is scheduled for an afternoon recording session of her ultimate hit, "Black Bottom." It's sizzling outside, but the heat on the street is nothing compared to the heat that is promised to be inside the studio. Ma is unsurprisingly and understandably too hot to handle even by his long-time white manager and producer; and, that's a recipe for a heated trouble. To add to the recipe, there's the hot-headed Levee Green (Chadwick Boseman in a posthumous excellence) staging a breakthrough coup d'état to boost up his own musical career. Based on August Wilson's ...
Review: Undine (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Undine (2020)

German director, Christian Petzold, trades the eloquently crafted period drama that has become his trademark in the last few tenures (including Phoenix and Transit) for a present era tragedy with mythical touch in his new film, Undine. While the title—referring to the protagonist's name—sounds obvious, it has never been clearly assuring to whether Petzold's new drama is a story about a mythological water fairy or a heartbreaking love story inspired by the water spirit. Whichever stance it implies, any prerequisite knowledge about undines might lead audiences to different exits as the story goes. One thing for sure, the narrative doesn't operate in the magical, fairy tale ways; but, it rather follows a more haunting path, observing the worst case scenario in the happily-ever-after aftermat...
Review: Quarantine Tales (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Quarantine Tales (2020)

Amidst the frustrating COVID-19 pandemic, BASE Entertainment (Indonesian-Singaporean production company behind Joko Anwar's Impetigore and Riri Riza's Bebas) produced a multi-genre omnibus called Quarantine Tales. By putting together 5 short films under one umbrella theme—quarantine, the omnibus showcases works from a mix-and-match combo of seasoned and rising Indonesian directors. The omnibus also marks the directorial debut of prominent Indonesian actress, Dian Sastrowardoyo (Ada Apa dengan Cinta and Kartini), alongside other works from acclaimed director, Ifa Isfansyah (Sang Penari, Pendekar Tongkat Emas), as well as promising names, such as Jason Iskandar (whose full-feature debut, Akhirat: A Love Story) is coming soon, Sidharta Tata (Tunnel), and Aco Tenriyagelli. (more…)...
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: Apples (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Apples (2020)

When Aristotle wrote Poetics, he wouldn't have predicted how dramatic narrative will shift in his homeland of what we now know as Greece. After the umpteenth New Waves that had been on the tide for centuries, the current wave, especially in the film narrative dubbed as Greek Weird Wave, has moved to somewhat blend the mythical trait from the oral narrative era with bizarre drama and black comedy as shown in the work of Yorgos Lanthimos, Panos Koutras, Athina Rachel Tsangari, and recently in Babis Makridis' Pity. The directorial debut of Christos Nikou, frequent collaborator of Lanthimos, titled Apples adds to the very same long list with a peculiar story about a lonely man living in a pandemic world. Only the melancholy that looms can compensate the sheer bizarreness that the story exudes...
Review: Shirley (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Shirley (2020)

In the recent years, Elisabeth Moss has transformed herself into a beast of an actor. Her sharp acting keeps pushing the boundaries and setting higher standards in each occasion. In the aftermath of Madmen, she quickly bounces with staggering performance in all seasons of The Handmaid's Tale before winning Palme D'Or in Ruben Östlund's The Square, and the unnerving acting in Her Smell. In 2020, she single-handedly leads Leigh Whannell's The Invisible Man into its acclaimed status. Shirley, however, presents a challenge that she manages to overcome with scintillating details in portraying Shirley Jackson, quirky horror author who writes The Haunting in the Hill House. (more…)
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: Extra Ordinary (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Extra Ordinary (2019)

To simply classify Enda Loughman and Mike Ahern's full-feature debut, Extra Ordinary, as a banal, non-specified, ordinary horror comedy might be an understatement through and through. There are ghosts in it, but not in a horror mood; there are jokes in it, but not of some straight gross-out mode. In fact, a woman—Maeve Higgins—stars, leads, and co-writes hearty yet ghastly comedy that isn't a product of try-hard. It's an oddball, tongue-to-cheek movie with lots of ghost and lots of heart at the same time, finding a consensus with a troublesome midlife crisis in the background. (more…)
Review: Run (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Run (2020)

After the sleeper hit, Searching (2018), everyone seems to look forward to what Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian bring for their next story. The highly anticipated follow-up, Run—starring Sarah Paulson—was announced immediately after the release of Chaganty's debut for a Mother's Day release in May 2020. After some schedule amendment, this thriller eventually streams directly on Hulu. Look closely and you will find just how close Run thematically is with Searching, in which both exudes borderless parental love in nasty thrillers that could have gone out of hand in a matter of minutes. (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…)

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