Cathy Yan is a new and exciting director that more people should be aware of. She has a track record of making interesting films with a diverse cast and crew. I cannot wait to see what the future brings for Yan, I know I will be there opening weekend for any films with her name in the credits.
Having made two short films with the same actress as the lead character, "Baden Baden" (2016) is Writer-director Rachel Lang’s debut feature. This French-Belgian comedy-drama is a gentle but poignant summer spent with Ana looking for work, looking for meaning and ill-advisedly renovating her grandmother’s bathroom. It’s funny and awkward but also hopeful.
Marielle Heller's "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" is a favourite among the ITOL team, I mean it landed at number 6 on our Top 50 Films of the Decade list for no reason. And, while Heller made her debut with "The Diary of a Teenage Girl", it is "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" where we see Heller shine as well as prove her capability as a director. It's also worth mentioning that Heller latest film "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" is proof that she's not just a one-hit-wonder. It's clear that this is a filmmaker that is here to stay.
Despite garnering positive views and also picking up Oscar nominations for Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant and best-adapted screenplay for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Heller was completely ignored by the Academy for Best Director.
Staring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, Olivia Wilde's comedic coming-of-age film "Booksmart" follows two overachievers who attempt to cram years of high school fun into one night. Yet, their friendship will be tested when they are confronted with the changes and obstacles that come with graduation and growing up. One of the main messages of this film revolves around the importance of experience and breaking out of your comfort zone. Best buds, Molly and Amy both seem to have wasted the fun times of high school by relentlessly studying so they decide to turn the night before graduation into the ultimate high school experience.
How do you say good-bye to a beloved member of the family? Worse yet, what if they don’t know that their time is short? “The Farewell” (2019) addresses this situation with humor and gentle ruefulness that is never maudlin. Young Billi (Awkwafina) resides in America but stays in close touch with her Chinese grandmother, or Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao).
“Take this Waltz” (2011) has the main character’s story undone slowly, with a meditative and varied look on relationships. There is a lot of restraint with the film, and its patience is where it flourishes, because it allows a deeper engagement with the subjects and the questions that it creates.
Margot (Michelle Williams) and Lou Seth Rogan are a married couple, distant at times, but with their own cute comforts and familiarities. There’s a sadness to Margot even though their life seems to be good. They are both writers, him a cook crafting a chicken recipe book, and her a writer of pamphlets for tourist locations.
I had the unique privilege of reading My Abandonment in Pete Rock’s creative nonfiction class during my junior year at Reed College, a tiny, liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon. I already knew that I wanted to write a creative thesis my senior year, but I had not yet taken a creative writing class (oops). Pete was kind enough to take a chance on me, accepting me into his mostly full upper-level course. It was in this course that we read a vast array of creative nonfiction, a unique genre that Pete capped off with one of his own works.
The writing of My Abandonment is solid, of course, the story of a weathered Iraq war verteran and his thirteen-year-old daughter imbued with the rough Oregon life that I myself had been growing accustomed to for the past two and a half years.
In 2000, we learned that my grandfather had cancer. He went through chemotherapy, and my mother and I went up to help him and get him to doctor’s appointments as he ended up in assisted living. I was there the day he received his terminal diagnosis, and 7 of the next 10 weeks were spent trying to comfort him, and get things prepared for after the inevitable happened. It finally did in late July. I was very close to him- he was like another parent to me. It was devastating.
Those months come to the forefront of my mind in contemplating Lulu Wang’s beautiful dramatic comedy, “The Farewell.” Inspired by her own life, Wang tells the story of her family whom, when they find out the worst about their beloved Nai Nai, they do what is unthinkable to most of us- they don’t tell her.
At ITOL we love getting a chance to speak to filmmakers, and we were especially excited to speak to Claire McCarthy after recently catching her latest film, "Ophelia". McCarthy is an Australian filmmaker, screenwriter, producer and visual artist. Throughout her career, she has brought audiences such films as "The Waiting City" (2009), "Little Hands" (2011) and "Skins" (2007) with actress Mia Wasikowska. Her feature film "The Waiting City", which starred Joel Edgerton and Radha Mitchell, was released in North America after premiering at TIFF 2010, and has gone to be sold to over 40 territories world-wide.