A pensive character study about Keith, a young man whom was recently released from prison after serving time for drug-related crimes, Matthew Porterfield's Sollers Point is an honest and raw examination of the trials and tribulations of rehabilitation. Detailing a character in Keith who struggles to reconcile the various allegiances he's formed over the years, many of which are in conflict with one and other, Soller's Point examines the struggles of this man to take responsibility for his actions, as he attempts to piece his life back together. Void of didactic devices, Soller's Point unfolds organically, being a film which poignantly deconstructs the struggles of rehabilation honestly. Never making excuses for this angst-ridden character whom places blame on others for his own inability to accept responsibility, Sollers Point is a mature work which exposes both sides of this complex issue through this study of it's flawed protagonist, showcasing the need for a strong foundation both internally and externally when it comes to meaningful rehabilitation of oneself.
A poignant study of the coercive effects which selfishness, lovelessness, and detachment can have on humanities sense of morality, Andrey Zvyagintsav's latest film uses an intimate portrait of a quickly deteriorating marriage to make far reaching assertions about contemporary life, one in which our growing detachment from one-and-other has led to a general loss of empathy among society. A story of two parents hatred for each other and the destructive effect which it brings to their young, neglected son, Zvyagintsav's juxtaposes this family story with that of the global political climate, one in which our detachment from others breeds neglect, which often leads to atrocities being met with little action due to such detachment. Impeccibly crafted with a visual aesthetic which exudes a foreboding sense of dread and despair, Loveless is another stunning artistic achievement by Zvyagintsav, which is relfective and poignant in it's harrowing deconstruction of the coldness of modern society.
South Korean cinema has come to be known for their brutal crime movies in recent years, and Hoon-jung Park's V.I.P. certainly lives up the formula, albeit not reaching the same heights of the best in recent Korean crime cinema. V.I.P. is a brutal, relentless descent into darkness, a film that gets too bogged down in its international story, one that works thematically but is far too convoluted from a pure narrative perspective. Featuring a memorable antagonist, whom is in the hall of fame for "movie villains you want to punch in their smug face", V.I.P. is a story about how bureaucracy, power structures, money, and most importantly, authority, can subvert justice and basic human mortality.
A film which manages to exhibit the whole range of human emotion, Sabu's Mr. Long transverses traditional genre classification, having sensibilities as much rooted in comedy as tragedy, action as drama. Not a particularly original story archetype, following a character lost in the darkness only to eventually rediscover the light, Sabu's Mr Long impresses with its treatment of the material, being a genuinely engaging experience across the emotional spectrum. The main character, A Taiwanese hitman stranded in Japan for the time-being after a hit goes wrong, is a fully developed protagonist, one whose meticulous nature and underlying sensual side, are presented with very little need for the spoken word. The clash between the perilous, cold world and the danger it bestows with that of the general kindness and tranquility of domesticated, simple life, Mr. Long is a multi-varied tale with a story that is sure to leave the audience emotionally affected.
Featuring a harrowing lead performance by Diane Kruger, Fatih Akin's In The Fade examines cycical nature of vengeance through the lens of terrorism, detailing how hatred often manifests itself in times of tragedy. A film which is relatively apolitical, In The Fade doesn't offer up any type of easy answers, recognizing instead the need for more empathy and love in a world which routinely repeats itself, as hate and violence begets more of the same.
A devilishly enjoyable dark comedy with a poignant message, Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri deconstructs the corrosive effects anger can have on the psyche of a good-natured individual, detailing how such rage is a destructive force that traverses ones general sense of kindness, compromise, and compassion, effectively stripping away one's general sense of humanism and empathy towards others. Exhibiting a genuine sense of levity from start to finish, McDonagh's film lives on a different plane, oscillating between cartoonish, over-the-type stylistic situations and quiet, piercing moments of honesty and truth, a film which manages to find the comedy and eventually the humanity in a host of off-the-wall characters whom at first glance have very few redeeming qualities, outside of their ability to entertain us from a distance.
A relatively shapeless exercise in the grotesque, Flying Lotus' Kuso derives its artistry from subversive horror, where surrealism and absurdity deliver disturbing imagery full of ingenuity. Self-aware in execution, Kuso seems to be some form of commentary on the quantifiable nature of art and/or our culture as a whole, though attempting to understand the underlying themes requires quite the commitment, given the film's genuinely grotesque, beguiling nature.
Richard Linklater's Last Flag Flying is an introspective and balanced deconstruction of America's perpetual military interventionism, telling the story of three retired veterans of the Vietnam War, whom reunite under tragic circumstances. Drawing parallels between the Vietnam War and the invasion of Iraq, Last Flag Flying raises resonant and paramount questions about government and its purpose, recognizing that the juvenile assertion that government is simply "the people" is fraudulent. Thematically rich and emotionally poignant, Last Flag Flying features phenomenal performances from all involved, being a film that captures the brotherhood of military service while simultaneously understanding that criticism of the military is criticism of the government and its imperialism and interventionist ways, which has nothing to do with those whom serve- individuals whom deserve the utmost respect for the sacrifices they've made.
A story of maternity, adolescent malaise, family, and ultimately identity, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird is an honest depiction of budding adulthood. Featuring a story that is both poignant and comically rewarding, Lady Bird is pensive and introspective in its depiction of a young woman stumbling along her path to self-discovery and personal identity.
Fast-paced, vibrant, and bristling with vitality in its storytelling, Thor: Ragnarok delivers enjoyable escapism that Marvel hasn't been able to match since the original Guardians of Galaxy, Aesthetically jubilant, Taika Waititi injects copious amounts of wit into the god of thunder's latest adventure, making it a highly enjoyable from start to finish.
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