Monday, April 15, 2024

KAMAY (2024) Vision Du Réel

 


Kamay is the name of a stubborn grass that grows in the middle of Afghanistan.  It is a symbol for the people who live there who refuse to give up and bow to authorities. It is a representation of the family of a girl named Zahra who killed herself after a run in with a teacher who was the dean of her school.

KAMAY the film is the story of Zahra’s family, who a year after her death are trying to not only get justice for her daughter but just get her possessions back from the authorities on Kabul.

This is a pastoral film that moves at the speed of life. It is a film where we watch the family as they work around their home, just trying to live their lives, while at the same time trying to connect with the people working for justice in Kabul. We also follow the family as they make the days long car ride trips into the city, through the mountains, the snow, and assorted other dangers.

KAMAY is a very moving film. It is a film perfectly designed to make us feel what the people on the screen are feeling. A brilliant use of pacing and minimal camera movement we feel as though we are moving through life with the family.  We feel the weight of their lives in ways that most films don’t give us. I was touched.

That said the pace of the film is very slow.  As I said it moves at the speed of life. If you either don’t like that or can’t click with it this is going to be a tough slog. I think what we see and what we experience is worth the trip, but that may not work for you.

Ultimately KAMAY is magnificent film that you should see, especially if you can see it on the big screen where you can fall into the images.

Recommended

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Nightcap 4/14/23 I hate jump scares*, Drive in season approaches.

One of the top 3 loudest audience screams was at this moment and it wasn't a jump scare

I got into a couple of discussions about jump scares in horror films. It seems many people think that is what horror is all about. Clearly they are watching the wrong sort of horror films.

In trying to explain my position to the people on line  I came to realize that most horror filmmakers today just build films that simply are rollercoasters that peak in a series of jump scares.  In these films there is no real narrative tension, there is just waiting until someone jumps out and says "BOO" at maximum volume. I have nothing against jump scares, I mean an occasional one is fine but I prefer the dread and unease that a good horror film builds to being scared because the sound designer turns the volume up. 

So many of the smaller horror films are just jump scares and no real terror.  It's a series  wind up and release cycles, nothing that you take home with you. I think part of the reason for this is that so many people today learned what horror is by watching slasher films. Things like Friday the 13th and the films that copied those films are just a series sequences of waiting for Jason to jump out. There is no real fun in that after a point, just waiting for the new cool way to kill someone (An aside: the other crappy horror trend is films like the later Nightmare on Elm Street and Saw films where the horror isn't from the story but simply from the horror of the new deus ex machina death. However that is another essay for another time.)

To me the real horror is film where a mood is created, where jump scares are at a minimum and the shrieks are from unexpected turns like in The Exorcist (say the head spinning around), Insidious (the black demon just standing in the background-see above), Psycho (Norman's mother's face over his), Brooklyn 45 (when the locket moves) or in a sudden or unexpected turn that changes things say in Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal's escape), or The Wailing (where the film flips in the final half hour). Then there are films like Inerasable, which creates a horrible mood that builds to the end and is never released (I didn't sleep the night I saw it). 

Within the films that aren't just jump scare factories we get interesting discussions of society and humanity. We get examinations of who we are and where we are going in ways that normal films can't explore. I mean this is why horror novels like Frankenstein and Dracula and Dr Jekyll or Dorian Gray still resonate after centuries have passed or in films why Larry Talbot still breaks our hearts and John Carpenter's the Thing is finding bigger audiences every year.

I doubt that many films that are just jump scares or an excuse for cool effects will last. 

---


Drive  in season has started. Across the country many drive ins have already started showing films. I know this weekend there screening of DAWN IF THE DEAD for its 40th anniversary.

In two weeks the big deals are happening in Pennsylvania- The Mahoning Drive in begins there season of genre features with WILLIE WONKA and THE WIZARD OF OZ. (Details here). After that it's going to be Muppets and Monsters and Zombies (all the Romero Zombie films Memorial Day Weekend) and Kevin Bacon. If you are in driving distance I suggest to checking the schedule and going.

In Vandergrift PA the Riverside Drive In(website here) is going to be hosting  the spring version of the Drive-In Monster-rama. it's two nights of four horror films. More importantly it's two nights with great people. I will be there and you you should be to.

Tickets are selling fast. They can be had here. For more detail also check the Facebook page.

---

I may be a film writer and a member of a critics group but I am going to be leaving some films off my dance card.

I will not be seeing the new Joker film because I disliked the original film so much.

I will not be seeing SPEAK NO EVIL because as good as the original film is I never want to go to that dark place again- and if this film isn’t good I will be arguing that its not as good as the original.

I am not running out to see CIVIL WAR because I am up and down on Alex Garland’s films and because his lack of clear reasoning is going to make me crazy.

---

More New Releases this week, more ND NF films and finally Fantaspoa films.

*-most of the time

Blind Cop2 (2023) Fantaspoa 2024


Send up of 1980's macho action films, this is a film that hots every expected note and a few you you never considered in the story of a blind cop named Blind Cop, who hunts down the leaders of the crimnal organization in his city. Teaming up with green young officer he unleashes mayhem everywhere he goes,

How you react to this film will be determined by where you see it. If you see it in a theater full of people you are going to have a better time than if you see this home alone. That's not a knock, but more a statement that that the over the top nature of the film will click better when you have an audience talking to the screen and each other. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad movie,  it just one that play better the more people can goof along with it.

The film is funnier is you know what it's riffing. If you grew up or spent all your adult life watching the endless low budget action films from Cannon, New World, Dimension or where ever then you are going to get even more out of the film because there is a good chance you many be able to name the movies that are being spoofed.

I had a grand time watching this film, laughing at each ridiculous turn... that wasn't so ridiculous because a few years back a similar sequence was played largely straight when Bronson, Eastwood or Segal did it straight. (Actually this would have been a good film if it had been played straight)

BLIND COP 2 is a blast and highly recommended when it plays at Fantaspoa. (And no, there is no BLIND COP)

IRENA’S VOW (2024) is a Fathom event


Sophie Nélisse stars as Irene Gut Opdyke, who during the second world war decided that she had to do something, so when she learned that the ghetto was going to be leveled she decided to hide as many Jews as possible in the safest place she could think of…the basement of the home of the Nazi officer for whom she was working.

This is a good war time bio/thriller. Telling a tale most of us haven’t heard of and fewer of us wouldn’t believe if it wasn’t true, IRENA’S VOW connects us to the past by telling us a really compelling tale.  That the story of the rescue is only part of the story is what makes this film something worth seeing.

If I was to say that there is any flaw in the film it’s in the casting of Sophie Nélisse in the lead. While perfectly adequate in the role she never changes her expression through almost the entire film. From first shot to almost the last she wears the look of a wounded deer in the headlights. While on some level it is understandable, it also makes her less like a person and more like a mannequin. It kept me disconnected from the film (though I was connected to the story). It’s not fatal but it kept me from being as deeply moved as I might have been.

Homicide New York(2024)


Five part Netflix series that is a sort of a documentary series of Law And Order.  Focusing on a group of NYC detectives, an Assistant District Attorney and  a medical investigator as they relate some of their cases. 

This is a super series. Once you get past the weak first episode the series is something that is going to make you binge it all in one series.  It took me two days to watch the first episode and when I was done I ended up streaming the rest in one night. This is great stuff.

Covering some big cases from the last few decades the series covers a grop of teens who killed a man in Central part, s serial killer/rapist in Harlem, a killing over the Carnegie Deli and two others. They are all cases you've heard about and this is a look behind the curtain.The best part of the series is we see the toll the cases take on the good guys. We see how they become involved and how t becomes too much and walk away. Having a friend who was a prosecutor who took her own life because the voices never left her  Dealing with the cost was something we don't see.

I loved this series and I've been recommending it.

I hope there is going to be more.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

RAIN (2023) Miami Film Festival 2024


If you want to see the first film of the next director from Mexico to win an Oscar the see Rodrigo García Saiz's RAIN which is playing at the Miami Film Festival. Looking and feeling like the work of a seasoned director, the film has the assured hand that rivals the work of Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guillermo del Toro.

I know that sets up impossible expectations but take into account the way the film makes you feel and if you really watch how the film is crafted you will see that Rodrigo García Saiz is going to do great things.

The film is six interconnected stories all taking place over a rain soaked 24 hours. It begins in the rain when cab driver picks up a rider who gives him his own address as a destination. From there we move between the various stories which bring us into the lives of various people who are trying to get past an unexpected turn in their lives. 

I was moved. 

While some of the stories are not as perfect as others, all of them hold us tight in their grip. This is due to craft of filmmakers being directed by  Saiz, but also a cast that is among the best ensemble  casts of the last ten years.  This is as good as casting can get. Everyone nails  their role and you can feel their lives bleeding off the screen.

When the film was done I started to reach out to some of my friends. I had to get more eyes on this film because there is something special here.

You need to see this.

Intercepted (2023) NDNF 2024


The weight of what we see and hear in INTERCEPTED will crush you. While the film is not graphic in a typical war documentary, the weight of the words will pulverize your soul.

The film is footage of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people after the Russian invasion. We watch as they go through their daily routines in a country at war. Yes, we see the destruction, but also, we see children playing, the people repairing damage, farming, driving. Everything that people do in peaceful time. Over the images we listen to the intercepted cellphone calls that Russian soldiers made to their loved ones. They speak of the terrible things that they have done and experienced in the war. We also listen to them have very human conversations about their lives as well.

The mix of life and death is jarring. At first it kind of seems a clever game, and then the enormity of what we are seeing and hearing begins to hit home and root itself in our souls. The unseen violence begins to carve us up. The sadness that it brings weighs us down. You will become confused as you realized that one group of humans sees another as less.

I did not expect my ass to be kicked this badly.

In an age when we are flooded with films on Ukraine to the point that many blend together, INTERCEPTED stands out and reveals itself to be one of the best films on the war and the tragedy it has brought.

Recommended.

Friday, April 12, 2024

A Journey in Spring (2023) NDNF 2023


An older couple go through out their day. She works, he repairs the sink at home. When she passes away, he tells no one and remembers their past.

This is a memory play where everything is told in the physical actions rather than the words. Dialog is at a minimum, largely in the flashback memories, so what we are clued into the feelings and emotions is all through how the characters move. Any dialog ends up being commentary on the emotions of the largely wordless now sequences. (Though at the end we realize that everything but the beginning and end is a memory)

This is a beautiful looking and very deliberate film which you will either love or hate depending on your feelings toward the pacing and reflective nature of the film. This is where not a lot happens even though a lot of emotion is kicked up as one man contemplates his relationship to his wife. For some this is going to be manna from heaven and for others this is going to be close to watching paint dry. This is best described at moving at the speed of life.

For me the film was a mixed viewing experience. While I was okay with the pacing, my feelings for the film dissipated toward the conclusion. I say this because there was this moment toward the end where I realized that this was not going to have a big pay off. Emotionally there isn't enough here.

The problem is that the film plays as if it's a feature version of a short story. Short stories, and short films, have a rhythm all their own. Because of their brevity they can  show us moments, or pieces of a story, or even have endings that leave us hanging. Watching A JOURNEY IN SPRING I frequently could hear the voice of a short story narrator telling us the story. The ending, when it came could have been dead on perfect for a film a third of the film's length but not for something running 90 minutes.

Mirroring a short story in a feature can work, Ryusuke Hamaguchi's EVIL DOES NOT EXIST is a cinematic short story in feature form and it works with devastating power. However it takes more than simply stretching  a story to feature length.

While there is much to love in the film, the look and performances, A JOURNEY IN SPRING is a film best seen by an audience who can connect to it's deliberate pacing.

MEEZAN (SCALE) (2023) NDNF 2024


Shahab Mihandoust’s portrait of the fishing industry in Iran’s Khuzestan province is a stunner. A three part tale the film follows what happens on the boats, on the wharf where they doc ans in the processing lpant where the fish ends up.

This film is a visual and audio stunner. I described the film as one of the most "you are there" films I've ever run across. Mihandoust’s puts us in the thick of things, do so in a way that doesn't make us just an observer but a participant. 

As for the audio, it's as environmentally perfect as they come. What makes the film so special is that we don't have the absolute pinpoint perfection of most films, you know where every sound is perfectly placed and so it creates an unreal world. Here instead is soundtrack that puts us in a place. I mention this because when I asked about getting access to the film I received an email from Mr. Mihandoust who told me if I did not see the film in a cinema I absolutely must wear headphones. He was dead on right. Never have I ever experienced a place via audio quite like this. I actually replayed several sections of the film just so I could close my eyes and really take in the sound. This needs to be in the Oscar race for best sound design.

Technical achievements aside the film is magnificent. If documentaries are supposed to show us things we never knew, this film does it in spades. Sure I've seen films, both documentary and narrative on fishing, but never have I understood how it all fits together. Additionally this is a film that really puts s into the lives of everyone on screen.

This is one of the best films at this year's New Director's New Films and one of the most amazing films I've seen in 2024.

Go see this big and loud and be amazed.

Damaged (2024)


When the police in Scotland begin to find bodies that match up with an uncaught serial killer, they call in the cop (Samuel L Jackson) who knows the work of the killer better than anyone.

DAMAGED lost me from the opening minutes. The film opens with a woman going home. She enters her house and does what she does. There is a knock at the door. She goes to the door LOOKS OUT THE PEEP HOLE AND THEN OPENS THE DOOR. At this point a serial killer pushes his way int her house. He is dressed all in black. Has a mask, a hood, a cape. Everything seems to be made of a rain coat like material...andhe kills her. WHY DID SHE OPEN THE DOOR? She saw a scary guy out there and she OPENED HER DOOR.

WHY?

AT that point the film lost me as I knew nothing was going to make sense. And from that point nothing does, as the film shows us things happening at the same time that couldn't be at the same time, we glimpse of the killer behind the mask at one point - except when it's revealed it couldn't be that person.

I was having a running commentary through the film that had be saying "wait what?" every couple of minutes. I then replayed the sequence and found out it didn't match up with what we saw earlier. Didn't anyone realize that this film makes no sense? 

Didn't anyone care?

I don't know if the cast and crew knew that this film is such a turkey. I don't think they did since you can't make a film that is top of the mountain if you know the story is this nonsensical. I say this because the film looks great, the score is wonderful, and the cast is all at the top of their game. If you just watch the film without following the plot it's creepy and tense. This film rocks---until you start to put the pieces together and you realize there is nothing there.

Great cast or no this is not really worth your time.

What a disappointment

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Riddle Of Fire (2023) on VOD April 12

 


When their sick mother asks her kids to run out and get her favorite pie, the kids are set on a grand adventure involving poachers, witches, a huntsman and a fairy.

This twee family film is one of a growing genre of films where adults with best intentions make films that echo the films of their childhood, like GOONIES, KENNY & CO,  MONSTER SQUAD but are so saccharine and safe that they never really engage. The problem is not so much what happens, rather it’s in the feel of the film, which is so polished that there is never any danger or connection to reality.

Its that polished sheen that does in RIDDLE IF FIRE. Looking and like a fancy picture book from the 1970’s but with modern items such as paintball guns and cellphones. While there is nothing wrong with the script or the cast, director Weston Razooli makes the mistake shooting the film entirely with the storybook esthetic, people stand so they can be seen by the camera and not how they would in real life.  There is never any real sense of danger, there is no grit, just a sheen of a false nostalgia. In GOONIES or KENNY & CO or even MONSTER SQUAD there was an edge. There was a danger to the characters (hence the reason the ending of MONSTER SQUAD is so bittersweet) that made us lean in and worry about whether they will be alright or not. We never feel that in RIDDLE OF FIRE. We know from the opening minutes, that life is a story and it’s all going to be okay. The stakes are so low that we know the lids are going to skate. There is nothing wrong with that assuming that the filmmakers can give us at least one moment of uncertainty or one moment where it was about more than pie, but it never happens.

Forgive me for kvetching, but so much in RIDDLE OF FIRE that is really good that the fact it never quite makes it compelling disappoints. This should be a classic (there is classic stuff here) not just okay.’

Is it worth seeing?

Now that it’s streaming yes.

Brief thoughts on Malu (2023) NDNF 2024


Yara de Novaes stars as an actress who is constantly at war with the world.  Living with her religious mother, she is headed for an uncertain future. And now her daughter has returned from France.

The reason to see this film is Novaes. Giving one of the best performances you will see all year (and destined to be ignored by Oscar) this is a performance that is going to haunt you. Portraying a character who is not entirely likable Novaes gives us someone who is unforgettable. 

See this for Novaes because she is just that good.

DREAMING AND DYING (2023) NDNF 2024


After years apart three school friends meet and consider their lives and relationships. 

Odd off kilter and magic realist drama  is an art house film full of long silence, meaningful sighs and sad looks. It is a film that is full of self importance and unspoken meaning.

This film didn't really work for me. From the opening image of a woman sitting by a statue of a hand this film felt off. It wanted me to know it was going to be about something. However as time went on I never clicked with it. In large part this was due to my not understanding why these three were together for any length of time. Yes. there are reasons, but at the same time there wasn't enough to propel even a 75 minute film.

This film missed for me.

All You Need Is Death (2023)


Aleks and Anna travel across Ireland collecting old songs which they then sell to various collectors for a price. One night they happen upon a long forgotten love song. It's a song of consuming love that has been passed down orally to all of the women in a certain family. The woman who knows the song will sing it for Anna on the condition that Aleks wait outside and that she does not record the song or write it down once she's heard it.  Unfortunately Anna records the song and then begins to try and decipher what it means....

This is not a film of monsters and jump scares. This is a film of mood and building Dread. This is a film that strives to create a feeling of doom.

I am mixed regarding writer/director/producer Paul Duane’s ALL YOU NEED IS DEATH. This is a film with one hell of a story and script  that feels undercut by the way it's shot. perfectly framed  with people seemingly placed in the frame so they are more often then not facing the camera instead of each other the film feels incredibly slick. It feels like it's staged at times and not life. There is a perfection to the images that is a bit too perfect for the story being told. The perfection of the images and the staging of some sequences kept me out of the film and kept the unease to a minimum. 

But it's not the fault of script or the cast. The cast is very good and the script is first rate. The script chills, and creates an oppressive atmosphere, while the cast sell what is happening.

If I sound like I dislike the film, I'm sorry. I actually love most of the film. I love enough of the film that I wish the film was shot better.

My reservation aside ALL YOU NEED IS DEATH is worth a look.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Fantaspoa Starts This Week


The awesome Fantaspoa starts this week and we are blessed. 

One of the great festivals anywhere in the world it is a festival where you know that no matter what they are screening it's worth your time. The problem is that they program so many films you simply can't see them all....at least within the time of the festival without cloning yourself several times over.


I love this festival with all my heart. Everyone asks me why don't you travel to go to festivals like Toronto or Berlin or Cannes- and my answer is I can't go to those festivals until I go to Fantaspoa.  I have to go to this festival first because I know that when I get there I will be glad I saw every film I see. No film festival should be that good...but it is.

Trust me.

As this posts I am getting ready to wade into the films. I am not going to Porto Alegre, I couldn't get off from the day job, however I have been granted access to a bunch of the films so reviews  will be coming when the embargoes lift. So keep an eye on Unseen Films.


However because in addition to World Premiering tons of great films, they also run the best films from other festivals, as such  I can provide you with a head start on some of the great films playing. Here are links to reviews of 14 films I've previously reviewed. 

BABY ASSASSINS 2
COMPLEX FORMS
VISITORS COMPLETE EDITION
ISLAND BETWEEN THE TIDES 
TWO MINUTES BEYOND INFINITY
WICKER MAN
KIM'S VIDEO
ENTER THE CLONES OF BRUCE
OUR FATHER THE DEVIL
RIVER
DEMIGOD THE BEGINNING OF THE LEGEND
MUSHROOMS
WEIRD KIDZ
FANTASTIC GOLEM AFFAIRS

And now it's time for me to start watching.

For tickets and more information go here.

ARCADIAN (2024)


15 years after some horrible night monsters come up the bowels of the earth, a father is forced to go outside at night to rescue his one son who didn't come home.

Despite the film going off the rails in the second half, I really do like this film a great deal. I think the world building is quite good, and the sense of a post apocalyptic world is stunning. It feels right, more so than any other film. There is a real sense of fear for most of the film. Additionally I don't know when I have ever heard an audience react to a monster reveal as it did happened in this film. It's a messed up moment that had the audience talking to the screen. Despite my quibbles I have to say that when this film works it is true cinematic magic.

The problem is the film has narrative issues that kill the momentum as we try to get our heads around the questions they raise. The first issue is that the main action of the film is set 15 years after the opening bit, the fall of humanity. That's all well and good but it raises all sorts of questions about gas, and cigars and meds being good after a decade and a half. While removing  the "15 years later" card would solve it, you can't cut the opening bit because that moment plays into the ending, giving it all its power. You want to audience to get misty, so you can't cut it. 

The film also goes banana shaped in the second half as things happen just "because". The logic or reasoning of so much is simply not explained (I won't say what less I spoil anything). Pretty much everything that happens from the explosion onward we have to take on faith. I think either they had to trim a boatload of exposition at some point, or they didn't know where to go and just stole things from various 1980's scifi and horror films as well as an infamous one from a Steven Spielberg film.

There is no getting around it the film is a real mess if you think about it, but so many moments do work, the first half, the relationship between the brothers, and their father and Charlotte, the monsters, the world building, the score and some other things are so strong that they carry you past the narrative problems, (and the use of unsteadied hand held cameras) to make this an entertaining, and perhaps a moving film (the statement of a father's love at the end brought a tear to my eye). 

Seriously I liked it enough that I emailed friends and family to say give it a shot.

Worth a look for fans of post-apocalyptic thrillers and cool monsters.

LOST COUNTRY (2023) NDNF2023

 


Stefan is a teenage boy whose mother is the public face for the Milosevic regime. As the political situation begin to crumble and the people begin revolting Stefan is forced to confront the fact that life is not as his mother says it is and that his childhood is over.

One of the best films at this year's New Directors New FIlms is a stunning mediation not only the history of Serbia but also the state of the world today. In a world where everyone is being fed a steady stream of echo chamber pablum from their choice of news source, we all are running into possible danger about what is really going on catching up with us.

On a smaller scale this is simply a great little drama. It is beautifully acted to such a degree that by the time the final images are flickering on the screen we are broken. In a festival full of cold artistic turns LOST COUNTRY is a film with a beating heart.

A must see.

ANY SIGN AT ALL (2023) Florida Film Festival

Faryl Amadeus’s short film is  the story of a pregnant young woman looking for guidance from above. On her way to meet potential adoptive  parents for her child, she is running hopelessly late. Then her car and phone die in quick succession. When things continue at a gas station she is forced to ponder what she is supposed to do.

This is a tightly packed tale where it seems everything that can go wrong will. There is a certain point where you stop thinking about anything but finding out what is going to happen in the next moment. How is this going to slide now. You can’t look away because we are so invested in what we are seeing.

That the film works so well it’s simply that Amadeus always keeps everything grounded. Yes the amount of things going wrong in a such a short period of time is simply something you only see in the movies, but at the same time everything is so perfectly done, and so perfectly timed that you really can’t not believe it is possible. The fact that the grounding and pacing is dead on perfect makes this film an absolute killer.

Actually it is so perfectly done you are going to want to know what happens next after the end credits roll. Sadly we will never find out because I emailed Amadeus about finding out and she said that she is prepping a couple of feature films and can’t expand the tale.

Set to plays April 13th at 2pm and April 16th at 6:30pm at the Florida Film Festival ,ANY SIGN AT ALL is a must see.

Enter the Clones of Bruce (2023) is hitting theaters -with in person Q&As with Bruce Le


This is a look at the Bruce Lee knock off films that followed in the wake of Lee's passing. Officially there are 88 however the actual number is closer to 200.

Seven years in the making the film was being worked on until the very last minute. Despite being accepted into Tribeca the film had to be recut at the last minute when the man who was Bruce Li agreed to talk 4 weeks before the festival. I can only image what had to be lost, as well as I'm curious what the original three hour cut of the film looked like.

While the film seems to be a bit rambling, no doubt the result of a last minute editing, I really enjoyed this film a great deal. It was wonderful to hear all the stories about the making of the films. It made me want to go and pull out the films I have in my collection and watch them (A box set with this doc and some titles is coming soon)

 I had a blast.

After the world premiere screening there was a Q&A (see below) which was great fun and absolutely not long enough.

Highly recommended to anyone who ever heard about the clones of Bruce Lee.


THEATRICAL DATES

 *4/12 - 4/14 - Alamo Drafthouse DTLA (Los Angeles, CA) +

ENTER THE GAME OF DEATH (4/12), THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER (4/13),

NINJA STRIKES BACK (4/14)

*4/16 - Alamo Drafthouse New Mission (San Francisco)

*4/18 - Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar (Austin, TX) +

THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER

*4/20 - 4/21 - Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan (NYC) +

THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIGER

4/10 - PhilaMOCA (Philadelphia, PA) + THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN

4/12 - Stray Cat Film Center (Kansas City, MO)

Week of 4/12 - Mayfair (Ottawa, ON)

4/16 - Hollywood Theater (Portland, OR)

4/18 - Roxy 14 (Santa Rosa, CA) + THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN

4/19 - Jengo’s Playhouse (Wilmington, NC)

4/19 - 4/21 - Gateway Film Center (Columbus, OH)

Week of 4/26 - Grand Illusion (Seattle, WA) + THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN

Austin Drafthouse South Lamar (Austin, TX)

Alamo Drafthouse Seaport (Boston)

Alamo Drafthouse Wrigleyville (Chicago)

Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake (Denver)

Alamo Drafthouse DTLA (Los Angeles)

Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan (New York City)

Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh

Alamo Drafthouse La Vista (Omaha)

 Week of 5/3 ­- Alamo Drafthouse Montecillo (El Paso)

Alamo Drafthouse LaCenterra (Houston)

Alamo Drafthouse Lubbock

5/31 - Hot Docs (Toronto, ON)

*Live Q&A after the screening with Bruce Le, Director David Gregory, and Producers Michael Worth, Frank Djeng, and Vivian Wong

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Cu Li Never Cries (2024) NDNF 2024


A woman returns to her home town to spread the ashes of her ex husband, deal with the pygmy slow loris she inherited and to reconnect with her niece who is getting married and seems doomed to relive past mistakes.

An intriguing drama is turned into an art house meditation on the lives we lived, the ones we left behind and the ability to control the future. It's a film full of moody black and white images and silences that are supposed to portend something.

Somewhere into the early part of the film I began to wonder if all of the artistic flourishes were really needed. Would this have been a better film had the story had been simply told? Somehow I think it would have been better had the camera not lingered and a few more things actually had been spelled out. 

Please forgive me for seeming to be a Luddite but there is enough here in the basic tale that dressing it up raises the stakes and the expectations higher than they should be.  For me there was no grand revelation.

A miss.