Currently browsing the "Drama" category.

Mini-review: Siberia

The bromance between director Abel Ferrara and Willem Dafoe has reached its zenith with their latest collaboration. Each year for the last three in June I’ve watched Dafoe play a man adrift. In Pasolini he was the noted director wandering through Rome right up to his death. In Tommaso he was Ferrara’s stand-in, rambling around Rome again as his marriage crumbles and he struggles with his latest film. This time he’s a man hiding out in Siberia roaming through his own mental landscape to try and find himself. As with the previous films, there’s not much of a clear story line, just a series of scenes that you can arrange into a story of your choosing. I wish I’d chosen to turn it off sooner.

Review: Les Nôtres

In the small town of Sainte-Adeline, Quebec, 13-year-old Magalie (Émilie Bierre) seems like the quintessential teenager – sullen, social media addicted, smitten with a secret boyfriend she won’t even tell her closest friends much about. But her life changes dramatically when it is discovered that she’s pregnant, and pretty far along at that. Suddenly she’s slut shamed by everyone at school, and her single mother is at wit’s end, especially because Magalie refuses to reveal the father’s name. And soon everyone is pretty certain that it’s her friend Manu (Léon Diconca Pelletier) who lives across the street with his parents,  Jean-Marc (Paul Doucet) the popular mayor of the town and his wife Chantal (Judith Baribeau). But it isn’t what it appears to be at all.

Review: Take Me Somewhere Nice

First time writer/director Ena Sendijarević is a Bosnian refugee raised in Holland and her coming-of-age road trip movie is informed by that detached perspective. It’s the story of Alma (Sara Luna Zoric), still a teen, but already grappling with womanhood. She’s a Dutch Bosnian who heads back to her homeland to see the father she never knew who’s in the hospital dying. She’s counting on her cousin Emir (Ernad Prnjavorac) to help her out, but he’s got other things to do, sort of. However, his friend Denis (Lazar Dragojevic) takes an immediate interest in her, up to a point. But when neither of them will take her to see her father she hops a bus, but gets left at a rest stop, losing her suitcase and her money. And she suddenly becomes dependent on the kindness of Bosnian strangers. And as she faces one debacle after another she moves closer and closer to finding herself.

Review: La Dosis (The Dose)

Back in 2012, there was a big news story about a couple of Uruguayan nurses who euthanized a lot of hospital patients. Inspired by that story Argentinian director Martin Kraut in his feature debut has fashioned an entertaining psychological thriller that centers on the rivalry between a senior and a junior nurse in a small hospital’s ICU, both playing God with the people they’re supposed to be taking care of. They couldn’t be more different in their personalities and motives though. And once they’ve each discovered the other’s proclivity, their game of wits threatens to kill one of them.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 14

This week I chose films from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 90s, and 00s. Two are from the same director. They take place in Rome and Paris and Berlin and Tokyo and Washington. Several of them are considered to be the greatest films of their genres. There’s comedy, political satire, civil unrest, a hitman double-cross, and what we do for those we love is a recurring theme.

This week’s films are:

 Bicycle Thieves,  Dr. Strangelove,  Lost in Translation,  Run Lola Run,  La Haine,  Le Samourai, and  Umberto D.

Review: Undine

This romantic drama from director Christian Petzold reunties actors Paula Beer (Franz) and Franz Rogowski who starred together in his film Transit a couple of years ago. She plays Undine, a historian in a Berlin museum who lectures select audiences about the city’s urban design. He’s Christoph, a commercial diver who meets her just after she’s been dumped by her current boyfriend (Jacob Matschenz, “Charité”) who she’s told, “If you leave me, I’ll have to kill you.” In a well-known European folk tale, Undine is a water nymph who who becomes human when she falls in love with a man but has to kill him and return to the deep if he is unfaithful to her. In the film, Undine slowly reveals her true self through a beautiful and bittersweet fantasy-tinged love story.

Review: The Perfect Candidate

Saudi Arabian cinema has a very short history. The first feature shot there was only in 2012! And it was written and directed by a woman, Haifaa Al-Mansour. Since then she’s worked in other countries but for The Perfect Candidate she returned home and shot a film that’s part family drama, part feminist anthem, and all a pleasure to watch. It’s Maryam’s (Mila Al Zahrani) story. An accomplished physician in a small town, she’s still living in the patriarchy and chafing under it’s strict rules for women. Early on, she’s heading to a conference out of town when she’s not allowed to board a plane because her travel permit has expired.  And she can only rectify it if she has her guardian sign. A grown woman and she needs a man to sign! It’s a great way to introduce the audience to the insanity of being a woman in Saudi Arabia and to Maryam who’s fed up with it.

Review: There is No Evil

Shot in secret and smuggled out of Iran, There is No Evil is a four-part film centered on capital punishment and its effect on the men who are forced to be a part of the system. Director Mohammad Rasoulof understands the power and limitations of living in an authoritarian state personally. He’s been imprisoned more than once for taking a political stand. This is his seventh film, and many of them have won prestigious awards, though because of state censorship, none have been screened in Iran.  After winning the main prize at Cannes in 2017, he was accused of ‘endangering national security’ and ‘spreading propaganda against the Islamic government’ and officially barred from leaving the country, a verdict which is still in effect. He was also sentenced to one-year imprisonment. And yet he’s still risking his life to make films and this one is powerful.

Review: Profile

If you’re looking for a film that may actually play better on a desktop computer or laptop than in a theater, then look no further than Profile. The story takes place in the confines of a computer screen, which we all have intimate knowledge of these days. Video chats, Skype calls, bandwidth issues, posting cat pictures on Facebook and Instagram, juggling personal and professional accounts. You know the drill. Too bad Profile is being released in theaters first. It’s intriguing, but not compelling enough to warrant a theater experience, even if vaccinated. The film is based on a true story that I (as a former journalist) was vaguely familiar with, and it’s basically a thriller for geopolitical and journalism junkies.

Quickie Review: Queen Marie

Queen Marie tell the story of Queen Marie of Romania and her work as a diplomat at a crucial time in the country’s history. Born in England, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she married King Ferdinand I and was a very popular queen. But following World War One, the country was devastated and their Ambassador to the Paris Peace Talks of 1919 could not get the major powers to hear his plea for help in reunifying the country and sending aid. And so Marie headed to Paris and as the media followed her everywhere, she was able to bring her country’s concerns to the powers that be. It’s a great story, but sadly the film doesn’t really do it justice.