Browsing: Film Reviews

Among other things, the film showcases how the campuses in Tamil Nadu are widely demarcated among the student population based on caste. Pariyerum Perumal (God Who Mounts a Horse) is a very strong film. It invites a society, which is entrenched with casteist prejudices, for a debate and asks people to rethink these extreme forms of incivility. It takes us through the highly emotional struggles of a scheduled-caste youth who aspires to become a spokesperson of dignity and human rights for his community. He thus wishes to become like his role model, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, an unparalleled revolutionary leader of modern…

Last year, now-infamous producer Harvey Weinstein was still attending the Toronto International Film Festival. This year, making its world premiere at the festival he once frequented is “This Changes Everything,” a documentary highlighting the systemic sexism that has permeated Hollywood for the past century. In the year since a report by the New York Times alleged decades of abuse by Weinstein, he’s pled not guilty to sex-crime charges, including rape, and an array of powerful men have been similarly accused of various forms of misconduct. While it was hoped the ensuing uproar might give Hollywood a chance to shed it’s…

Like the recent Brazilian film Araby, Dominican writer-director Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias’s Cocote grafts a fictional narrative onto the sturdy stock of documentary filmmaking. Here, the story concerns Alberto (Vicente Santos), a gardener for a wealthy upper-class family in Santo Domingo who’s forced to return to his remote rural hometown of Oviedo when he receives word of his father’s recent murder by decapitation in retaliation for unpaid debts. (The film’s title refers to the nape of the neck, thus to the wounds inflicted on Alberto’s father.) Tensions quickly arise within Alberto’s family due to the moral and theological conflicts between Alberto’s…

Vahid Jalilvand’s No Date, No Signature is so worked out that you know that every nuance is pointed and intentional. Jalilvand’s formal craftsmanship and attention to detail are accomplished, though his self-consciousness has a way of drying out the drama for the sake of socially minded sermonizing, which is frequent in Iranian imports inspired by Asghar Farhadi’s live-wire parables. Farhadi isn’t without a didactic streak either, but he’s a wizard of movement and performance, fostering a mysterious kinetic energy that often enriches and transcends the parables themselves. Jalilvand’s direction here belongs more firmly and routinely to the tradition of the moral procedural,…

The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company (a.k.a. Grandeur et Decadenced’un Petit Commerce de Cinema), from 1986, never received a release in theatres, in part because it was made for French television but also due to fears by distributors following the controversy and protests over Hail Mary, Jean-Luc Godard’s “blasphemous” 1985 feature. Yet, the director’s follow-up venture was much less overtly edgy: As if to make up for Hail Mary, a deliberately provocative critique of the Catholic Church, The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company is comparatively light, quirky and insular, at least in its initial portions. In fact, the maverick filmmaker…

Filmmakers Laura Collado and Jim Loomis’ Constructing Albert, a release from Juno Films,follows Albert Adrià as he brazenly launches five different restaurants in Barcelona from 2013 to the end of 2016, hoping to forge his own food empire and get out of the shadow of big brother Ferran, the wunderkind behind Spain’s world-class eating mecca elBulli. While this culinary-themed doc offers a little kitchen sizzle and artistically plated tastings (a delicious shrimp dish sautéed, a daring soy sorbet, etc.), the film has more of a scattershot, look-at-me Facebook feel. We experience Adrià onscreen or via voiceover as he nonstop shares—whether with journalists,…

Max Angely’s (Jean-Paul Bacri) birthday is not going well. Having spent the morning with “complicated clients” attempting to downsize their luxury downtown Paris reception for about the fourth time, the wedding planner has now relocated to the 17th Century Chateau setting of some seriously lavish nuptials, only to find virtually everything in disarray. Down a wait-staff member, he’s had to replace the original band, is stuck with the photographer (Jean-Paul Rouve) nobody else will hire and is having to bite his tongue while the early-arriving pretentious groom (Benjamin Lavernhe) informs him that they will have adjust the evening’s schedule to accommodate…

At the end of Eva Husson’s “Girls of the Sun,” a female peshmerga fighter enjoins a French journalist: “Write the truth.” The problem, unrecognized by Husson, who also wrote this pedantically commonplace drama, is that there are multiple ways of telling the truth: One brings to life three-dimensional people who respond to based-on-fact situations in ways that reflect the messiness of being human. “Girls” could be used as a case study for the other type of truth telling, the kind that studies real events and then packages them for mass consumption in ways that, while mimicking the facts in their barest…

The mixture of plot twists and moral shading, the focus on flawed characters and irresolvable pasts: Fans of writer-director Asghar Farhadi have come to cherish these trademark elements in his films. But when you become known for your topsy-turvy stories—for intimate dramas often embedded with startling surprises—the challenge becomes trying to outdo your previous narrative shockers (which risks pushing your movies further and further into implausibility) or simply repeating yourself (which risks becoming known as a dramatist of diminishing returns). Everybody Knows wrestles with this dilemma, ultimately successfully, while perhaps acknowledging that the two-time Oscar-winner can’t knock us off balance the way…

A number of years ago, the Brazilian writer-director João Moreira Salles discovered amateur footage of a 1966 group tour his mother filmed in China during the inception of the most radical phase of the Cultural Revolution. As Salles describes his mother in the narration for his documentary “In the Intense Now,” she was a “dilettante in search of the beauty of the country.” That she, a 37-year-old art historian, found beauty at this particular time in China testifies to her ability to perceive what was enchanting in the landscape and the faces of the people. But Salles also disparages, albeit…

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