Featuring an aesthetic and style deeply rooted in experimental sensibilities, Treasure of the Bitch Islands is a stark, post-apocalyptic descent which feels like some type of abstract retelling of The Odyssey, with the film's general plot being borderline incoherent, outside of the establishing exposition - a group of men on a missing for a new energy source in a post apocalyptic world. Visually stunning, Treasure features a multitude of memorable imagery, with its black and white photography evoking the existential nature of its thematics, one that is hard to decipher, outside of the philosophical assertions related perseverance, loyalty and compassion, as these men systematically find themselves met with great challenges on this dangerous, secluded island. Fragmented by design in order to evoke the psyches of its characters, Treasure of the Bitch Islands is a film which I admire more than actually enjoyed, with the film not going FAR enough aesthetically and stylistically to truly entrance me, with its discombobulated, incoherent narrative becomes tedious by the end of its nearly 2 hour running time.
How I hadn't seen this until now is uh, beyond me, but wow! What a visual extravaganza of stunt work and choreography which harkens as much to the films of Tati or Chaplin as to any martial-arts/action filmmaker. The story itself is a tad by-the-numbers, a classic underdog story, yet Police Story manages to completely skewer traditional modes of action filmmaking, being very playful, even humorous in a way that only reinforces the film's visceral action sequences. Screwball comedy meets Action/Martial Arts with fantastic results as Chan draws from everything, spanning from the Shaw Bros to silent-era filmmaking- Magical stuff.
Arrogant, self-congratulatory, and pompous yet it reflects on absolutely nothing, going through the motions of summarization with a playfulness that can be somewhat engaging, but ultimately self-indulgent and empty in its unwillingness to speak to larger philosophical issues as it relates to liberty, security, and democratic politics as a whole. Vice is poorly paced, features a host of clunky dialogue, and utterly fails miserably thematically, politically, and artistically, it's essentially a filmmaker patting himself on the back after severely overestimating his film's intellectual acumen.
A beautiful, expressive sensoral documentary about Jamaica that is a stunning follow-up to Allah's last feature, Field Niggas. Deeply spiritual and reflective about the island's past and present, Black Mother is an ode to the resiliency of its people, being pointed in its deconstruction of the impact of colonialism on black identity and culture. A love letter, Black Mother is exploratory yet piercing, meditative about how past influences present, yet it never loses its impassioned plea to a more naturalistic future for its people. It's a celebration of identity and the evolution of culture, an astute film about the temporal and spatial nature of culture in which the filmmaker shows no interest in judgement only reflection, a celebration of nonconformity. In all honesty, the film touches on so much complexities related to black identity, culture, and nature that this review can't even come close to giving it the justice it deserves.
Infinite Football is quietly profound masterwork, saying more about knowledge, experience, and immanent reading than most films can even dream of. The film is infinitely complex yet comforting in its exploration of philosophical assertions related to structural knowledge and self-worth, being a film which manages to work as both a sharp, humanistic portrait as well as a thematically rich exploration of the metaphysical constructions of knowledge and society themselves. How Infinite Football reflects on the connectivity of knowledge, how it's relational, rooted in dynamism, never static, is revelatory and rare, yet it's equally impressive as an intimate portrait of a man trying to make sense of things; simply put, this film is a triumph of the cinematic arts
A sumptuous experience, a beautifully constructed film which pulsates with grace. Never let's its genuine anger disrupt from its heartfelt love story, featuring great balance that makes the film feel alive and essential. The love shared between these two individuals grants them strength in a world which is structurally and systemically against them. A beautiful adaption of Baldwin's masterwork.
A western more in setting than practice, The Sisters Brothers' is a film which is coy with its thematic intentions, slowly revealing itself as a surprisingly astute study of the interconnected nature of life, exhibiting how various human actions, whether driven by selfishness, hatred, or love, are far reaching in scope, extending well beyond the mere individual who is committing them. Balancing its serious thematic intentions with moments of levity, The Sisters Brothers manages to never divulges into sentimentality, with its emotional relevance related to two brothers long fractured psyche, due to what is perceived as the heinous abuses of their father, being presented in an honest way where reconciliation and change in their demeanor, is a whisper, a small probability at best for these hardened men.
Naturalist, lived-in, and minimalist in its designs, Life and Nothing More is a potent reflection on life under the poverty line, weaponizing the coming of age narrative to deliver a genuine study of the socio-economic anxiety exemplified its main protagonist, a character whose fate feels predestined due to the environment in which he inhabits. Life and Nothing More is supremely well balanced, a film which doesn't feel reliant on making any type of deconstruction, instead it opts to simply be a reflection on this way of life and systemic challenges it presents against a better future. A film which doesn't make excuses for its characters nor one which denies structural problems, Life and Nothing More is a genuinely great drama void of sentimentality or forced thematics.
Roma is a film that feels stuck between two cinematic works, where its naturalist reflection on the epoch is sometimes at odds with its narrative driven, dramatic string-pulling ode to the director's memory of his past. While this is perhaps a bit of an overstatement, the main protagonist Cleo, feels more like a vessel for reflection of the director's memory than a developed character, something that wouldn't be a problem if the film wasn't driven by these narrative dramatic beats. Cleo is passive but that's not the problem, it's more that she is a reactionary character, having no agency, as the film shows little interest in exploring the contractual relationship, or should I say how the authority principle pertains to her situation. Everything about this character is interior-facing, yet when she does engage or react to the exterior it is a signal that this is an "important" moment, often driving the film forward in a didactic way. With that said, the film is largely convincing in establishing that this relationship between Cleo and the family for whom she works is not one driven by personal interests, with the cultural and personal bond being one that supersedes this master-servant dichotomy. Roma can at times be a surprisingly soulless film but it's aesthetically striking, as Cuaron establishes the epoch of his childhood effectively and without any superfluous exposition. The film has the potential to say so much, yet it opts for the more traditional dramatic chords, unwilling to explore these aforementioned thematic elements, opting perhaps what is a best described as an homage to Italian Neorealism, thought it often lacks the characterization necessary, despite a magnetic performance.
An impressive meditation on loss which illustrates pathos with a cinematic style rooted in efficiency rarely seen in contemporary cinema, Rob Tregenza's Gavagai features a genuine study of the human condition that is elegant, graceful, and emotionally resonant. In what could be regarded as a "simple drama" Gavagai is a marvel of craft and formalism, seamlessly transitioning between objective reality and subjective perception as it details the internal struggle facing its main protagonist, blending surrealistic and supernatural flourishes into a grounded narrative that beautifully expresses the intrinsic nature of memories, impressively capturing this truth in cinematic form. A quiet, elegant tour-de-force drama, Gavagai's slow-burn meditation on loss never succumbs to sentimentality or didactic designs, being an overlooked marvel of a film which captures grief, loss and emotional recovery in a genuine way most films only dream of.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.