ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 24: The Rider

“The Rider”, the second feature from writer-director Chloé Zhao, explores this tenet of masculinity through the story of South Dakotan rodeo cowboy Brady Blackburn, played by real-life rodeo cowboy Brady Jandreau. Blackburn’s story mirrors that of Jandreau, both of whom were taken out of the saddle unexpectedly, after sustaining a major injury in a horrific accident. As he recovers, Brady is advised that he can never ride again, or else he could risk losing his life. Continue reading ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 24: The Rider

Editorial: The Backlash Against Calls For Better Gender Representation On Screen

On 21st November Anita Sarkeesian tweeted to highlight the lack of female characters in the first episode of Disney’s new Star Wars show “The Mandalorian” and it caused an immediate backlash.

The discourse that’s still raging raises some fairly universal arguments which are worth exploring. It’s this discourse I want to focus on here, not the accuracy or otherwise of Sarkeesian’s tweet as I have not seen “The Mandalorian”. Continue reading Editorial: The Backlash Against Calls For Better Gender Representation On Screen

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 25: Shirkers

In 1992 Sandi Tan set out to make Singapore’s first road movie with the assistance of her friends Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique, as well as her mentor a much older man called Georges Cardona. Cardona was an enigmatic man who claimed to be the inspiration of James Spader’s character in “Sex, Lies and Videotapes”. To Tan, he was someone who saw her potential as a filmmaker and helped shaped her love for independent film. Cardona knew his cinema, but he was a magpie simply picking things up that didn’t belong to him and claiming them to be his own.

The plot of Tan’s film followed a young woman (who was played by Tan herself) who goes on the run after committing a crime. Along the way she creates new friends, picking up stray children like a pied-piper character as she travels across Singapore. Continue reading ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 25: Shirkers

Review: Hunters Weekend

Written, directed, and edited by Amy Taylor, this mockumentary takes aim at hubris, toxic masculinity, and violence.

“Hunter’s Weekend” (2018) follows two park rangers as they prepare for their annual hunter’s weekend. Lyle (Benjamin Geunther) and Victor (Christopher J. Young) are prepared for what they hope is another great experience when one of the selected hunters is found dead. “We have really strict rules about hunting other competitors.”

Why would they have such strict rules? Oh, because everyone who is there to hunt hunts, actual people, like Richard Connell’s short story, The Most Dangerous Games, or the grounded Universal film, “The Hunt.” On top of that, the hunters are not just normal hunters but actual serial killers. With the death of the participant, Lyle and Victor go on the hunt (pun intended) for the killer. Continue reading Review: Hunters Weekend

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 26: Stories We Tell

No family is normal. I consider the word “normal” as an oxymoron, to say that one is “normal” is such a odd phase and it just feels so underwhelming. As a chid, I always strived to be part of a normal family, but perhaps I was part of a normal family all along? We were a family that had its own secrets. In my adulthood, I realise that in all of our families, there will be some form of a secret past that the family tries to cover up or try to bury. We are only human after all, it’s in our nature to protect the ones we love from the truth. Continue reading ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 26: Stories We Tell

Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Last year, audiences were asked a simple question from a documentary about an iconic symbol of goodness – Won’t you be my neighbor? Ah, yes, I’m talking about the heartfelt documentary about Fred Rogers from director Morgan Neville that won the hearts of critics and audiences, but oddly didn’t enough love to earn, or even be nominated for, many major awards. It was actually one of the most talked about and head scratching snubs of last year, however, it seems like Mr. Rogers will find another chance for award recognition this year as director Marielle Heller crafts a heart-warming and heartfelt film that displays the raw power of good that comes from the iconic figure with “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. Continue reading Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 27: The Souvenir

Writer and director Joanna Hogg has always been known for her mysterious, creative and thoughtful films, but “The Souvenir” (2019) is her best yet. A tender tale of young love, it is Hogg’s most personal film to date, based on her own experiences at film school and dating an older, secretive and troubled man.

You can feel this personal touch throughout, in the gentle yet unflinching way Hogg’s camera follows Honor Swinton Byrne’s Julie, the young woman at the centre of this story. Continue reading ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 27: The Souvenir

Review: Her Smell

The music drama, and the excess of the rockstar lifestyle, has been pretty well captured on film over the decades, so how does a filmmaker now tell a story of someone living that life without retreading old ground?

Director and writer Alex Ross Perry’s “Her Smell” doesn’t seem to have much in the way of bold new ideas on that front sadly, instead he goes for big performances and some pretty interesting narrative framing to compensate. “Her Smell” is a tale of a front-woman of a ‘90s punk three-piece at the very cusp of breaking apart, who is not only clinging on to relevance against her band’s dwindling fortunes, but is also juggling the pressures and responsibilities of real life outside of the ephemeral madness of the rockstar persona. Continue reading Review: Her Smell

Review: Perfect Harmony, Hits the Perfect Notes

In a day and age when the entire world is crumbling around us, it is nice to have shows with heart but also do not take themselves seriously. “Perfect Harmony” is just that show.

The overarching premise of the show is Arthur (Bradley Whitford) plays a recently widowed Ivy League music professor becomes the director of a rural Kentucky church choir. Ginny (Anna Camp) is his main confidant and part of the reason he agrees to direct her church’s choir. That and to beat the local mega church which refused his late wife’s wish to be buried in their cemetery. Continue reading Review: Perfect Harmony, Hits the Perfect Notes

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 28: American Honey

Year: 2016 Runtime: 163 Minutes Director: Andrea Arnold Writer: Andrea Arnold Stars: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough By Mique Watson Few films in the pantheon of cinema feature stories centered around teenage girls; even fewer films depict them in … Continue reading ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 28: American Honey