Review: “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and Q&A with Céline Sciamma

“It’s done,” Céline Sciamma said through laughter, “I don’t need your approval!” Ten minutes earlier, a lengthy applause break punctuated the film screening and Sciamma was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation. Sitting in a folding director’s chair on-stage in the sold-out Music Box Theater in Chicago, IL, Sciamma shared insights on the filmmaking process during a question and answer session with the audience. The early pre-screening of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (2019) was part of a press tour preceding the films wide release in the United States. Continue reading Review: “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and Q&A with Céline Sciamma

Les Miserables (2019) Review

With his feature debut, “Les Miserables”, writer/director Ladj Ly creates narrative that’s boiling with tension as it displays the slow rise of rebellion and anarchy in a French city.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, is this another adaptation of the iconic novel by Victor Hugo or the musical – it’s not. Ly’s film is more of a modern take on the rebellious nature of the story and is inspired by 2005 riots that took place in Paris suburbs and across France. It has viewers follow the perspective of Stephane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard), a new officer that comes from a small province and transfers to a suburb of Paris called Montfermeil. Continue reading Les Miserables (2019) Review

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 14: The Farewell

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. Continue reading ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 14: The Farewell

Netflix Review: Now is the Time to Watch “Schitt’s Creek”

We are just a couple of months away from the beginning of the end. The Canadian comedy, “Schitt’s Creek” became a hit thanks to the audience Netflix brought. If you have not watched the show yet, now is the time to get started.

The show follows the Rose family. Johnny (Eugene Levy) is the patriarch of the family. He obtained his wealth through video stores. Moira (Catherine O’Hara) is the matriarch, who starred on notable soap operas and is a C-list actress. Their children David (Daniel Levy – and Eugene’s own son) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) have never worked a day in their lives. One day, it is learned that the Rose family has lost everything after being defrauded by their business manager. But they do have one asset (no, Moira, not the children) – a small town called Schitt’s Creek that Johnny bought. Continue reading Netflix Review: Now is the Time to Watch “Schitt’s Creek”

Review: Frozen 2

Six years after asking, “Do you want to build a snowman?” Elsa and Anna return in Disney’s “Frozen 2”, this time facing change and the fear of uncertainty.

That’s a more philosophical antagonist for the sisters of Frozen, which earned $1.3 billion worldwide, and a journey that doesn’t entirely feel necessary or without plot holes. But credit director Chris Buck and writer-director Jennifer Lee with crafting an ultimately satisfying story of more mature themes for an audience that’s grown out of the dress-up stage. Continue reading Review: Frozen 2

Sex and Living- Death in Thirst

2019 was the year that Andrew Scott’s Hot Priest seized the zeitgeist with full gusto. The Fleabag character had people all over the world fanning themselves to avoid a case of the vapours, with his actual name remaining a mystery. He was merely the latest – one of the most libidinously triumphant – in a line of on-screen hot priests. Others include Father Brian Finn in “Keeping the Faith”, Father Grandier in “The Devils”, Father Andrew Kiernan in “Stigmata”, Reverend Adam Smallbone in “Rev” and, perhaps most obviously, Friar Fuck in “Sex and the City”. One of the finest men of the faith was given to us by Park Chan-wook in his 2009 vampire romantic-horror, “Thirst”. Continue reading Sex and Living- Death in Thirst

MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL – an Alternative Lens review

“Maleficent” still stands out as something of a black sheep within Disney’s recent live-action catalogue. Instead of a simple remake or sequel, the film instead presents a revisionist retelling of Sleeping Beauty from its villain’s point of view whilst also turning the narrative into an allegory for sexual assault and abusive relationships.

The final result was admittedly ambitious but sloppy and ill-conceived (you can read my recent reappraisal of its botched metaphors here), but it did well financially so a sequel was always on the cards. After covering the entirety of the original tale, where exactly Mistress of Evil has to go from there seems a bit nebulous on first thought but, and this is an especially relieving shock to me, the final results are far beyond what anyone would reasonably expect. Continue reading MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL – an Alternative Lens review

Review: Paradise Hills

By Susanna Finn It seems fair to say that most parents have plans and ambitions for their children’s future, and this is only natural or at least expected, but what happens if the child turns out to be someone for who those goals and ambitions are no longer appropriate? What do you do with the daughter who stubbornly refuses to marry that filthy rich megalomaniac … Continue reading Review: Paradise Hills

Ad Astra And The Evolution Of Masculinity In Film

“Ad Astra” is more drama than it is sci-fi; this is a rumination on whether or not the pursuit of knowledge is worth the expense of one’s humanity. Admirers of contemplatively mournful futuristic films like “Solaris”, “Gravity”, and “Arrival” will have much to stare at with wonder here. The film is also a provocative meditation on masculinity and how it’s defined by most people today. Continue reading Ad Astra And The Evolution Of Masculinity In Film