Review: Mickey and the Bear

The prospect of forging one’s path at the cost of leaving others behind is certainly far from an original narrative for the coming-of-age drama. For first-time writer & director Annabelle Attanasio however, what she achieves with ‘Mickey & The Bear’ is a heart-wrenching, visceral piece on the pursuit of personal gratification, while attempting to balance perceived family obligation, as fiercely headstrong Michaela (Mickey) is the sole provider and carer for her addict, veteran father Hank. A gifted young woman, Mickey is wholly a likeable, well-rounded character, without stripping an ounce of her humanity. She has flaws, she has emotions and her limits. Almost as if this coming-of-age narrative was written by a woman, for a woman. Camila Morrone’s method of characterisation is subdued, though sharing her on-screen father’s temper on occasion.

Short Film Review: Manara

The word "Manara" means lighthouse in Arabic. Zayn Alexander's short film "Manara" takes place in a Lighthouse, following a family as they try to deal with the loss of their patriarch. The purpose of a Lighthouse is to offer light and guidence to us, so we can somehow navigate of way through rough waters. With "Manara" Alexander proposes the question: what happens when that light has become extinguished? What happens to those who now find themselves plunged into darkness, and now completely blind? How do we find hope when the very light that once offered us guidence has now been cruelly snatched away? Often the strongest of short films centre around a simple premise which is carefully executed. "Manara" is a perfect example of how to carefully construct a short film narrative and Alexander along with writer Pascale Seigneurie manage to weave together a story which feels so real and genuine that we forget we are watching a film.

SXSW Exclusive Review: Finding Yingying

As a self-proclaimed true-crime junkie, I have seen and heard many stories about missing women, whether it be from a documentary, podcast, or headline on the evening news. The assumption that the answer is obvious: the husband or boyfriend did it—duh!  This is so NOT the case with “Finding Yingying” 2020. Yingying is a 26-year old Chinese woman who went missing shortly after she moved from China to Champaign, Illinois to pursue her PhD at The University of Illinois. This story is raw and real, heartbreakingly told through many voices: news stories, authorities, the family, boyfriend, friends and colleagues. Through Yingying’s diary entries, we are able to learn more about her, creating a backstory of her first 6-weeks in the United States. The words of her diary entries appear mostly in her native language—revealed over images of her; while a voiceover in English tells us her inner thoughts. She is independent, kind, caring, and incredibly smart.

Review: The Hunt

"The Hunt" is one of the few films currently on-demand after the majority of movie theatres have mandatorily closed due to COVID 19. It's no secret this film comes with a small wave of controversy as it was pushed back after an unfortunate mass shooting. Also, another layer of discussion was added after the plot of the film was revealed.

Short Film Review: Carga

Creating a short film is a completely different feat than filming a feature. With a feature film, you have the luxury of time in order to build up plot and characters whereas with a short every second counts. Over the years, I have seen many short films and filmmakers attempt the horror genre and failing. Many forgo the plot and character for a 'cheap' and lazy jump scare and a complicated plot twist. Yad Deen's "Carga" is a perfect example of how to use the short film format to weave together an electrifying, tense and dramatic short narrative which doesn't sacrifice on character or background. We fully believe that the events taking place in the film could happen in reality. The horror of "Carga" works because it's not supernatural, but human. The tension builds up slowly, as the narrative unfolds and plays out in a natural manner which doesn't feel forced. Not a single shot is wasted here, a testament to Deen's direction and the flawless script by Deen and fellow writer Chesco Simón. Coming in at just under 20 minutes in length, this is a film that maintains the tense atmosphere throughout until the film's satisfying ending.

Berlinale Exclusive Review: Yalda, la Nuit du Pardon (Yalda, a Night For Forgiveness)

The shocking premise of this Sundance-winning film is compelling. Director Massoud Bakhshi's second feature "Yalda, la Nuit du Pardon" ("Yalda, a Night For Forgiveness") shows a woman who must beg for forgiveness on live television or face the death penalty for the accidental murder of her much older husband. It has the hallmarks of a thrilling story, just rife for the big screen. But unfortunately, there was too much in here that was convoluted or contrived and the drama fizzled out as a result. Maryam (Sadaf Asgari) is the 26-year-old wife (temporary wife) who accidentally killed her 65-year-old husband during an argument.

Review: System Crasher (Systemsprenger)

What do you do with a child so out of control that they are a danger to themselves and others? What if they are too young to be housed in a secure facility and no group homes will take them? In Nora Fingscheidt’s first scripted feature “System Crasher” (2019) we see innocence meet with blind violent rage in a story that is both infuriating and incredibly sad. This film was Germany's official submission to the International Feature Film category at the 2020 Oscars.

SXSW Exclusive Review: The Carnivores

Writer/director Caleb Johnson’s sophomore effort, "The Carnivores", has a lot of strong intrigue, allure, and character to entrance viewers into its strange story of how man’s best friend is dividing a couple and making one of them oddly obsessed with raw meat. The film follows Alice (Tallie Medel) and Brett (Lindsay Burdge) as they are divided by Brett’s dog Harvie as his illness is causing him to slowly die. Although Brett wants to spend every last second with him since she feels she has so much history with him, Alice feels like he’s ruining everything. With Brett pretty much being obsessed with Harvie, Alice is starting to feel left out and it’s causing a major rift in their intimacy and love for one another. However, after Alice’s sleepwalking and her issues with Harvie come to a head, Harvie goes missing and the two women begin to uncover strange, beautiful, and even horrifying parts of one another.

Mini Review: Hava, Maryam, Ayesha

“Hava, Maryam, Ayesha” is a film about the everyday struggles of three Afghan women – specifically in relation to patriarchy, marriage and pregnancy – directed and co-written by fellow Afghan woman Sahraa Karimi. In its opening section, focusing on Hava (played by Arezoo Ariapoor), the film makes its focus on the everyday very clear with a documentary-like realism. A frequently handheld camera that shows the routines and chores Hava spends her days performing in full, unbroken takes. Her laboured, exhausted breathing makes up a large part of the film’s soundscape in this segment as she is belittled by the men around her and treated like a disrespected employee rather than a family member.

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