The cyclical nature of parental neglect and domestic abuse is displayed with rigor and introspection throughout Minding The Gap, an emotive, observational documentary which profiles the lives of three young men from volatile, broken homes. Like any great documentary, Minding the Gap is a film that evolves as it progresses, beginning as a commentary on the escape which skateboarding provided for these young men from their abusive homes. only to evolve into a much more powerful examination of family, abuse, and identity, detailing how the entry point into adulthood often brings into question one's own self-worth. Even in cinema, where coming of age stories are so prevalent, Minding The Gap stands out.
Internalized homophobia expressed through the campy, sensory aesthetic and formalism of a giallo;. Wish the film would have pushed the envelope even further but Yann Gonzalez's latest does a good job at examining the fine line which exists between pain and pleasure, love and hate, reflecting on the complex, often intertwined relationships which exist between carnal desire, societal norms, and individual pursuit. Showcasing how societal oppression leads to repression of the individual, Knife+Heart is a commentary on sexual liberation, exhibiting how restriction almost always leads to bloodshed and violence, whether it manifests itself internally or externally.
Subversive, emotionally potent, quite cynical, and hilarious, The Favourite embraces the comedic qualities which Lanthimos' subversive sensibilities evoke. Fun to see this idiosyncratic filmmaker operate in the epoch of 18th century England, The Favourite is a diabolically clever, tragic commentary on the tyranny of authority and corrosive nature of power.
A superbly crafted, haunting biopic of Ikki Kita; expressive, impressionistic portrait of a ideologue which focuses more on the psychology of the man than the temporal space he inhabited. Coup d'Etat is a haunting exercise in the trappings of ideology, with the the film being somewhat cynical yet astute in its ability to showcase how these ideals of man and our intrinsic proclivities towards grandeur or utopia, often lead nowhere, lost in the grandoise scope of time.
Not a masterwork by Kenji Mizoguchi but a film which showcases the director's strong sense of systemic oppression in Japanese society, one in which androcentric desires coerce the strong-minded main-protagonist, Ayoko. It's more than a mere "feminist" story, displaying how traditional society and its draconian principles, combined with a creeping materialism, restrict an individuals agency, specifically viewed through the lens of Ayoko, a sharp, well-intentioned woman whose only inevitable flaw is her unwillingness to accept her place in both larger society as a whole, but also among traditional family structures. Temporal yet also spatial, Osaka Elegy juxtaposes Ayoko's story against the larger nation state of Japan, a country which is stuck in the past, choked by tradition and isolation from the larger world.
A reflection on the spatial insignificance which can exist between love and hate, creativity and destruction, and good and evil when it comes to organic life, Lar Von Trier's The House That Jack Built is a singular vision of a serial killer, one which features a grand host of intricate assertions about art and the existential nature of humanity itself. A work that is complex, thought-provoking, blunt, yet spiritual, The House That Jack built's epoch is not temporal but existential, a film which is bound to stir up discourse, offering a host of possible interpretations. Vexatious in nature, Trier gives this misogynistic, violent psychopath a meaty disposition, one that challenges the sheer definition of altruism, moralism, and art itself, reflecting on societies' penchant for discourse, description, and examination instead of simple being is challenged with though-provoking rigor through this heinous man. The film's reflection on contemporary American society is its least interesting aspect, as its nothing we haven't seen before, but what Lars Von Trier has created with The House That Jack Built is a film which should be discussed, whether it be through disdain or praise, for years to come; isn't that what Art is all about?
An engrossing, humanistic, yet subversive examination of family, Koreeda's Shoplifters is a brazen, refreshing take on parental-child dynamics, a film which recognizes that even authority wielded by parents can be destructive and oppressive. Shoplifters asks what constitutes a family, examining a group of individuals whom through the lens of contemporary society are delinquents yet Koreeda shows little judgement, viewing them through a humanistic lens which attempts to understand them first, before judging them. Great, complex cinema
A pensive study of grief and general turmoil which strikes the right chord, brooding with pathos and levity. The best character study of the year - complex, compelling, never sentimental, yet brutally honest about a character struggling to stop his unraveling life
Starts strong but loses its luster a bit in the middle, with the last segment specifically being quite strong. Coen brothers penchant for blending genre elements seamlessly is of course the film's strength, oscillating between comedy and tragedy, visceral chaos and quiet moments of levity. Extremely clever when it comes to traversing the various tropes of the Western genre and era in American history itself.
Transcendental in its ability to subvert traditional melodrama and narrative conventions related to the paternal father/daughter narrative archetype, Leave No Trace is a revelation in its ability to tackle a host of complex issues related to family, community, individualism, and authority, doing so with a laser-tight focus full of astute observations. Emotionally resonant and incredibly astute, Leave no Trace is a complex examination of the oppressive nature of authority, something which restricts the autonomy of an individual, whether through the artifice of religion, the state, or the parental figure. While so many "smart" films these days conflate community and socialization with state authority, Leave No Trace maturely deconstructs the complexities of modern society, never taking the easy way out when it comes to philosophical assertions, recognizing that anything compulsory is oppressive. Epistemic in approach, Leave No Trace is simply put, one of the best films of the year and probably the decade-- a crowning achievement that should be seen and discussed for years.
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