Browsing: Film Reviews

Guillermo del Toro, like most of his peers who’ve managed to make some sort of mark in Hollywood, owns a house in Los Angeles. While it is located in a relatively affluent neighbourhood, and wouldn’t draw a second glance from passers-by – it could be the home of the Dursleys, as far as the unremarkable suburban exterior is concerned – it is, on the inside, a veritable house of horrors. There are entire rooms dedicated to the Mexican auteur’s favourite genres, fantasy and horror. Life-size wax figures of Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft occupy opposite corners of one room…

The world probably would be a better place if we all kept our mouths shut. Or, at least that’s the takeaway from “The Insult,” (Winner of Cinema Without Borders’ Bridging The Borders Award) the Oscar-nominated courtroom drama from former Quentin Tarantino sidekick Ziad Doueiri. In it, the Lebanon native takes a harsh look at his homeland and the uneasy alliance between the ruling Christians and the ever-expanding Muslim population, many of whom are exiled Palestinians. Their distrust for each other reaches back decades to a brutal civil war that lasted 15 years and frustratingly ended without closure or reprimands for…

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is either a genius or a wackadoodle. In his new movie, Before We Vanish, a trio of alien invaders land on Earth, possess a human host apiece and set about readying the planet for both their species’ arrival and our subsequent extinction. Kurosawa’s basic conceit establishes an identity crisis narrative, and by happy accident that’s exactly what the film goes through: a struggle between two completely different storytelling modes. In the first, Kurosawa stages a melancholic domestic love story. In the second, he plays around with formulaic genre elements. Neither of these threads tie together well—if they tie…

Whenever you want something from bottom of your heart, all conditions come together like pieces of a puzzle to stop it from happening. This exactly what happened during the theatrical release of the Subdued and I was not able to see this film. I had been waiting for a few months for the DVD release of the film that started last week. And tonight, I watched it. * The participation of Leila Hatami in any film could be a strong enough reason to watch it. Here in Subdued, her strong presence and her emotional and delicate style of acting aims…

Lebanese film director Ziad Doueiri made headlines recently when authorities in Beirut arrested him at the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport for questioning about his links to Israel. He was almost put on trial on charges of “normalizing relations” with Israel because of his visit here in 2012 as part of the filming of his previous movie, “The Attack.” But he managed to prove his “innocence.” Doueiri entered Israel on a U.S. passport, which he holds along with his French and Lebanese passports. Nonetheless, he was also detained and questioned in Israel. But the bigger commotion is over his new film,…

Azar, a new feature drama from Iranian Cinema, carries the name of its main female character.  Azar’s husband, Amir (Hamid Azarang) and his cousin, Saber (Houman Seyyedi) are planning to start a fast-food restaurant together and they need Saber’s father financial help. Saber is killed accidentally during an argument with Amir, Azar’s husband ends up in jail. The film suffers from a weak and confusing screenplay. The images in a supposedly feministic concept, deal with a subject that is against the movie promise, has no sign of women’s dignity or values of a woman as a wife. But instead film…

The imaginative world of a 9-year-old girl is superbly captured in writer-director Narges Abyar’s meandering but fascinating Breath (Nafas), which takes its place among memorable Iranian films about childhood from masters like Kiarostami, Panahi, Naderi and Majidi. Here an insightful woman director’s POV is a welcome plus, along with an astonishing performance by first-timer Sareh Nour Mousavi in the emotion-packed main role of the motherless Bahar. As Iran’s submission for consideration in the Academy Awards’ foreign-language film category, the pic comes with some impressive credentials, having won best director prizes at Tallinn Black Nights and the Vancouver Women’s Film Festival…

It’s the summer of 1983 when a doctorate student named Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives in the northern Italy town of Crema to intern for Professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent researcher of Greco-Roman culture and history. The charming Oliver is also greeted at the Perlman villa by the professor’s wife Annella (Amira Casar) and their 17-year-old son Elio (Timothèe Chalamet), the latter of which Oliver strikes up a close friendship…and then something more. Over the course of that one sun-baked summer, Oliver and Elio — seemingly unfettered by the time and place — come to realizations about themselves and each…

Matt Spicer’s bitter comedy of the absurd follows Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza, deadpan but with a manic edge), a depressed twentysomething who inherits $60,000 from her mother and uses the money to move to California, inspired by Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), an Instagram influencer she read about in Elle. Taylor’s bio is a sincere string of platitudes: “Treasure hunter. Castle builder. Proud Angeleno.” Ingrid pilfers tips on how to curate the right kind of cool from Taylor’s social media feeds and it’s not long before the young women become “BEST friends”, shopping for artisanal lamps and alternating margaritas with lines of…

Building on the surprising success of his English language debut The Lobster, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos puts a further deadpan spin on the horror genre with his new film The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a fatalistic and at times morbidly funny tale in which the sins of a father are visited upon his family in bizarre and horrifying ways. A Greek tragedy transplanted to the decorous environs of New York’s bourgeois professional classes, it stars Colin Farrell as Steven Murphy, a heart surgeon with a seemingly picture-perfect life. His wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) is a successful optometrist and their…

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