Review: Antigone

How does one update a greek tragedy written in 441BC? This was the task taken on by Canadian director, Sophie Deraspe. Inspired by the 2008 death of Fredy Villanueva in Montreal, Deraspe was awestruck by the character of Antigone. In an interview with Seventh Row, she stated the following: “I was struck by her sense of dignity, her intelligence. She goes against the law, but for something that she really believes is the right thing to do. She stays true to herself. Even if it’s a tragedy, it was, to me, very uplifting.” With Nahéma Ricci’s outstanding performance and Deraspe writing and direction, “Antigone” does indeed have a very uplifting element to it, demonstrating the power of love and duty to one’s own family. Despite being based on the ancient play, it is very much a film that feels very contemporary and completely necessary for the on-going issues of migration, police brutality and racism that plagues our western world. Continue reading Review: Antigone

Social Isolation Review: “Room”

Personally, I am now in a whole bunch of student loan debt thanks to my Master’s degree.  My degree in professional counselling has really changed how I watch a lot of film and television.  For instance, I cannot watch films that use mental illness as to why someone is a villain when we know that people with severe mental health disorders tend to be victims rather than perpetrators of violence.  (I’m looking at you M. Night Shyamalan).  I also judge therapy sessions and therapist offices on screen.  I say all of this to tell you that there are very few films that authentically handle mental health quite like Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” (2015).

The film starts with Jack (the incredible Jacob Tremblay) celebrating his fifth birthday in Room.  He sees this as his whole world.  It is literally his whole world, as he has lived there his whole life after his mother was kidnapped and held captive.  His Ma (the phenomenal Brie Larson) attempts to keep Room a safe place, until one day, it isn’t.  She has to hatch a plan to escape.  And they do.  You know the escape happens, but it does not make it any less stressful to watch a five-year-old child have to articulate very grown-up things to help save his parent. Continue reading Social Isolation Review: “Room”

Review: “Blindness” or how not to deal with an outbreak

Fernando Meirelles’ 2008 film “Blindness” is a thriller which shows us exactly how not to deal with an outbreak.

When people across a major American city start to suddenly lose their sight it quickly becomes apparent that whatever is causing this is contagious. With no other symptoms the sufferers are rounded up and put into quarantine. They have no contact with the outside world and are simply locked up in isolation with no doctors, no support and only meagre rations.

The eye doctor who saw some of the earlier patients (Mark Ruffalo) is taken in and his wife (Julianne Moore) wants to stay with him so claims to be blind too. Continue reading Review: “Blindness” or how not to deal with an outbreak

GFF Exclusive Review: How to Build a Girl

Closing the 2020 Glasgow Film Festival is Coky Giedroyc’s adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s “How to Build a Girl” (2019). With a festival that has produced so many great new films by female filmmakers and has advocated diversity in cinema since its inception, it’s appropriate to have the closing film concern the journey of a maturing young woman – the building of a girl if you will. The end result film that is flawed, but nonetheless mature and fun.

Beanie Feldstein is one of the most delightful people walking the earth right now, and her role in this film continues to prove this. Putting on a surprisingly good Warwickshire accent, she is Johanna Morigan, a sixth former who aspires to great things, looking to her wall of heroes – including Jo March, Maria von Trapp and Karl Marx – for guidance. A skilled writer, she submits a review for the “Annie” soundtrack at a weekly music magazine to buy back the family TV. Though initially baffled by this, the magazine eventually hires Johanna where Johanna dons the pen name Dolly Wilde to take her sudden new career to new, and life learning, heights. Continue reading GFF Exclusive Review: How to Build a Girl

Review: First Cow

Writer/director Kelly Reichardt has gained quite some notoriety over her career, so much so that Bong Joon-Ho even denotes her as one of his heroes, and her latest film, “First Cow”, gives audiences a unique Western adventure filled with friendship, character, and a cow.

Set in Oregon during the 19th Century, the film follows two scavengers – a skilled but secluded cook named Cookie (John Magaro) and an opportunistic Chinese man named King Lu (Orion Lee). Although they meet on strange terms, the two grow a special friendship as they look to make a name for themselves. However, when an incredibly wealthy man named Chief Factor (Toby Jones) purchases and brings the first cow to the area, the two see an opportunity to gain a wealth of their own. So, as they sneakily steal milk from under Factor’s nose, Cookie and Lu make a name for themselves by cooking baked goods that eventually gets them unwanted attention. Continue reading Review: First Cow

Mari Sandoz: Keeper of the Flame for Native American History

When an artist creates a body of work, they will sometimes look back to assess what they have done. John Ford was near the end of his career and apparently wasn’t completely proud of what his oeuvre consisted of. Most egregious was the way his Western films depicted Native Americans as villains who deserved to be killed and their lands confiscated. His shot at redemption came through a remarkable woman named Mari Sandoz who had written a strongly researched book titled, Cheyenne Autumn.

Mari grew up hearing the stories of the suffering of the Native American people through friends, neighbors and visitors to her family farm in Nebraska in the early 1900’s. Her relationship with her father was difficult but she wrote a very well received biography about him after his death. Her research into his life brought back the memories of the members of the Cheyenne tribe who were his friends. Continue reading Mari Sandoz: Keeper of the Flame for Native American History

Emma.: An In-depth Review

The second I saw the trailer for director Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved comedy “Emma.”, I just knew that it was something special. Even as someone who wasn’t familiar with the book in the slightest, there was just something so visually appealing and intriguing and it looked to kick off an incredible year for Anya Taylor-Joy. Now, that the film has finally hit theatres, it has met and exceeded my expectations and bolsters some of the strongest performances we’ll likely see this year – especially from Taylor-Joy. Continue reading Emma.: An In-depth Review

Review: 365 Days (365 dni)

Every year, Valentine’s Day leaves in its wake a fair number of films portraying love and romance in all of its pain and glory. Thanks to the incredibly short-lived craze surrounding “50 Shades of Grey”’s cinematic adaptation in February 2015 though, the possibilities seemed endless for more “mature” love stories (aka: erotic romance) to make it big on the big screen, and subvert what people would expect from a Valentine’s release. In the end this never happened, and a whole five years since that particular wave crested, along comes “365 Days”: the latest film from Polish writer/director Barbara Białowas. Continue reading Review: 365 Days (365 dni)

Review: Emma.

I walked into the screening for this film without any knowledge of the story nor have watched any previous adaptations. I’m a sucker for period pieces and after watching the trailer to this film, I immediately knew this would be on my to watch list. “Emma” is directed by Autumn de Wilde and it stars Anya Taylor Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Myra McFadyen, Josh O’Connor, and Callum Turner. This film follows the “Handsome, clever and rich” Emma Woodhouse who’s been meddling in other people’s lives as a matchmaker.

The costume design and production design are the strongest suits in this movie. Oh gosh, the costumes in this film are gorgeous. The attention to detail in the movie is impeccable. Continue reading Review: Emma.

Review: Waiting For Anya

“Waiting for Anya” (2020) feels like a good learning resource for a school history lesson. Its drama is gentle, the people are all very clean and the peril is mild. But it still helps to shine a light on the brave townsfolk all around Europe who risked death to smuggle others to safety across the borders.

Based on the children’s novel of the same name by “War Horse” author Michael Morpurgo, “Waiting for Anya” (2020) tells the story of Jo (Noah Schnapp from “Stranger Things”), a young shepherd living in a remote village in the south of France in 1942. His father is a prisoner of war and his mother and grandfather are sheep farmers. Continue reading Review: Waiting For Anya