Dodes’ka-den (1970) one of Akira Kurosawa’s most endearing films

The boy conductor, riding around the junkyard on his imaginary train, is the centerpiece to all the pains, grief, and highs of living in poverty. Kurosawa shows this world in wonderfully vivid colors, painting the unfortunate with humanity and grace, while also showing the dark side. The entire ensemble delivers idiosyncratic performances and helps build the culture and ideologies of this place. One of Kurosawa’s most original and endearing films. … More Dodes’ka-den (1970) one of Akira Kurosawa’s most endearing films

Hsiao-Hsien Hou conveys the haunting silence of the KMT in A City of Sadness (1989)

The film communicates emotion and repression masterfully, living under a psychotic, militaristic, and violent regime. It’s a film that spans generations of family characters, who all, one-by-one, get picked off by the military with no reason given – senseless violence and a provocative look at life under oppression of this nature. The craft of the production design and blocking makes each scene feel crucial and that urgency is felt through every scene and performance. And Tony Leung is excellent here, taking a vulnerable stance against a vicious, fascist government that’s unafraid of its citizens. It’s the film at the birth of a nation and shows the messy fallout from an occupying government leaving citizens out for ransom. It’s a horrifying realization and perspective on how large-scale cultural change can impact people. Hsiao-Hsien Hou conveys this through embittered personal memory, and the threatening atmosphere. … More Hsiao-Hsien Hou conveys the haunting silence of the KMT in A City of Sadness (1989)

Hit the Road is a painfully intimate story that slowly unravels

HIt The Road. The title implies a journey with a beginning, but not necessarily an ending. Panah Panai’s journey without an ending embodies the title, and the emotion behind it. A script with a fascinating set of character archetypes and dynamics that all play out gradually, leading these actors to special moments. The slow revealing nature of the plot, while the characters are trapped in a laboriously long car ride through the Iranian desert, permits us to spend a deeply intimate period with a family. There is a destination to their journey, but it’s often lied about or hinted at but never stated explicitly. Even at the end of the film, it’s difficult to know the reason why this experience was necessary for this family’s survival. … More Hit the Road is a painfully intimate story that slowly unravels

Boiling Point is the one-shot done right

Done in one brilliantly crafted one-shot, the brisk flow of the pacing and camera movements made it feel natural as possible, as if one was a quiet observer watching a restaurant kitchen crumble. The pressure cooker atmosphere enhances the thematic relevance, and captures the true tension and anxiety of running a restaurant. Food people who … More Boiling Point is the one-shot done right

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn not as fun as title suggest

enuinely surprised how much I disliked a film titled Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn but here we are. The general idea and structure around COVID restrictions, cancel culture, and the hypocrisy around society’s chaste attitudes and pseudo-purity aren’t novel and underexplored here. … More Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn not as fun as title suggest

Caleb Landry Jones is hauntingly brilliant in Justin Kurzel’s “Nitram”

Nitram is devastatingly cruel in the exploration of Australia’s first mass shooter and refreshingly honest in the horrors of this character’s worldview. Caleb Landry Jones as the dejected, irrational, and completely broken soul is on full display and the depiction of this hateful figure where this type of violent outrage feels somehow inevitable, but the direction and the performances hide the sickly underbelly with shades of his humanity and how it gets stripped from him. … More Caleb Landry Jones is hauntingly brilliant in Justin Kurzel’s “Nitram”

The 2022 PGA Nominations rewarding extreme American blandness

merica (PGA) has become the end all be all of Oscar prognostication. The preferential ballot changed everything and PGA being the lone awards body operating under that system makes the winner here a valuable commodity to pundits. For reference, 20 of the 29 PGA Golden Laurel (or best picture) winners have gone on to win the Oscar. … More The 2022 PGA Nominations rewarding extreme American blandness

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy Hamaguchi’s Subversive Anthology Film

Ryusuke Hamaguchi stealth released two films in one year. His “other” film being the Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, a methodical exploration of character that’s so honest with itself, paced so deliberately to invoke connection and a sense of realism. The anthology structure lets Hamaguchi grapple heavily with the themes through a variety of situations … More Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy Hamaguchi’s Subversive Anthology Film