REVIEW: Трудно быть богом [Hard to Be a God] [2014]

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“Don’t drink. I only sniff now.” There’s a plot inside Aleksey German‘s final film Трудно быть богом [Hard to Be a God]—an audacious sci-fi epic slinging mud and feces in our faces while everyone onscreen sniffs them like drugs until we’re involuntarily following suit. No really, there is. Well, maybe a lingering vestige of what […]

REVIEW: pɔt̪ʰer pãtʃali [Pather Panchali] [Song of the Little Road] [1955]

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“Go ask him for money” The story behind Satyajit Ray‘s debut film pɔt̪ʰer pãtʃali [Pather Panchali] [Song of the Little Road] is one you cannot separate from the work itself. It’s an underdog tale full of hardship and financial woe—incidents that dragged production along for three years before finally bringing India to the world in […]

REVIEW: 思い出のマーニー [Omoide no Mânî] [When Marnie Was There] [2014]

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“I wish for a normal life everyday” If Studio Ghibli ends up closing shop as announced, we can be glad their final film is a winner with the heart and soul we’ve come to love from Hayao Miyazaki and the team. I’m surely in the minority, but I’d even say Hiromasa Yonebayaski‘s When Marnie Was […]

REVIEW: Réalité [Reality] [2015]

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“The insides serve no purpose” This is what it’s like to go insane. Writer/director Quentin Dupieux loves the surreal and absurd, but Réalité [Reality] takes his penchant for humorous oddity to another level. With Philip Glass‘ “Music with Changing Parts” boring a hole into your temple and fluid sequences of characters meeting in real time […]

REVIEW: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter [2015]

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“Solitude? Just fancy loneliness.” It’s easy to assume Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter will be a humorous adventure of cultural dissonance upon reading its synopsis. The conceit is ripe for comedy and David and Nathan Zellner do mine that arena throughout their drama when it suits the story, but it’s a nuanced tragedy that’s ultimately delivered. […]

REVIEW: Relatos salvajes [Wild Tales] [2014]

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“Crime of passion?” Best. Wedding. Ever. And trip to the bureaucratic black hole that is government sanctioned towing. And expertly planned, faux fateful airline flight this side of “Lost”. I mean it. Damián Szifrón‘s Relatos salvejes [Wild Tales] is a twisted cousin of Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s The Decalogue, a sextet of darkly comic morality plays where […]

REVIEW: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night [2014]

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“Are you a good boy or not?” The comparisons are so spot-on that I knew critics before me had made the same parallels before even looking. Ana Lily Amirpour‘s debut feature A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is Jim Jarmusch cool with Quentin Tarantino swagger—an Iranian Vampire Western calling to mind Dead Man and […]

REVIEW: Левиафан [Leviafan] [Leviathan] [2014]

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“These animals are not the whole town” It doesn’t get much bleaker or more cynical than Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Левиафан [Leviathan]. He and cowriter Oleg Negin were inspired by many stories—”killdozer” rampage orchestrator Marvin Heemeyer, the Bible’s Job and King Ahab, and Heinrich von Kleist’s novella Michael Kohlhaas—all of which I know nothing about. Reading a […]

REVIEW: かぐや姫の物語 [Kaguyahime no monogatari] [The Tale of The Princess Kaguya] [2013]

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“That was Heaven telling us who she’d grow into” There is no questioning whether かぐや姫の物語 [Kaguyahime no monogatari] [The Tale of The Princess Kaguya] is an extraordinary work of art. The beauty of its simplistic, watercolor ink-lined drawings is a breath of fresh air within a medium of 3D-rendered characters trying so hard to not […]

REVIEW: La Parka [The Reaper] [2013]

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“It’s your turn now” With thought provoking musings on life and death, La Parka [The Reaper] provides a unique look at Mexican slaughterhouse employee Efraín Jiménez García. A husband and father who walked by the business one day to see a “Now Hiring” sign, Efraín has worked his way up from waste sweeper to killer […]

REVIEW: Nasza klatwa [Our Curse] [2014]

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“Except that for him everything is just a beginning” After culling together home videos documenting the early days of his son Leo Hueckel-Sliwinski‘s life along with brief one-shots of cathartic conversations had between he and wife Magda Hueckel into a seven-minute short three years ago, Tomasz Sliwinski expands their harrowing tale via the half hour […]